April 1st, 2010
08:19 PM ET
13 years ago

LA Mayor, census director discuss outreach on Census Day

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/04/01/art.lamayorjk0401.cnn.jpg caption="LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa told CNN that the city is being 'very aggressive about reaching out' to historically under-counted groups."]
Washington (CNN) – With a national response rate thus far that is just above 50 percent, there are still challenges to the decennial national head count, the director of the Census Bureau and the mayor of the country’s second largest city told CNN.

Both men spoke Thursday with CNN Chief National Correspondent John King.

“This is a big operation,” Census Director Robert Groves said in an interview on CNN’s John King, USA. The agency head added that for every percentage point increase in the national response rate, the federal government saves $85 million. “So that is our total focus now,” Groves said of the bureau’s efforts to increase the rate at which census forms are returned so that it does not have to employ workers to pay physical visits to non-responsive households.

Because the national head count is used to apportion seats in the House of Representatives, the results of the census also have political implications (in addition to being used to allocate hundreds of billions of dollars annually in federal program money).

Related: Republican urges conservatives to complete census forms

But Groves told King his agency does not get into politics. “The purposes of the census, the product of the census is indeed used for political purposes,” he said, “but my side of it, the counting, has to be completely nonpartisan.”

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa also spoke with King about his efforts to get census forms returned by the residents of his city.

Villaraigosa acknowledged that Los Angeles’s response rate is running below the national average, but he said his administration is being “very aggressive about reaching out” to the city’s large foreign-born population, young people, renters and other historically under-counted groups.

Related: 'There'll be no adjustment of this Census,' Groves says

The mayor also rejected the suggestion by some leaders in the Latino community that Hispanics not participate in the census as a form of protest over their desire for immigration reform.

“That kind of thinking is, frankly, not going to provide the health care, the child care, the education, the services that are provided based on population,” Villaraigosa told King.

The Constitution requires that the census be conducted every ten years. By law, information provided to the Census Bureau is confidential.

Thursday is National Census Day, a day of awareness intended to encourage Americans to complete their census forms. To commemorate the day, the White House released a photo of President Obama completing the form on behalf of the Obama household.

Related: Census Day questions answered

Filed under: Census • JKUSA • John King USA • Popular Posts
soundoff (6 Responses)
  1. Jenn, Philadelphia

    First a postcard to say the form is coming, then the form, and then 2 postcards to say if you didn't get the form yet, wait it's coming. Maybe if they saved the money on advertising and postage they could give each state an equal amount of money. If they want to know who's in the country, ask the IRS, the taxpayers are the only ones who should get counted in the first place.

    April 1, 2010 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  2. JP

    Why is this a surprise with all the illegals in California they tend to stay in the shadows. Two thirds of the births in public hospitals in L.A. are to illegals. One of the biggest reasons they are in such horrible financial shape is providing services to illegals.

    April 1, 2010 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  3. Victim of GOP Taliban

    wow there are only a million illegal aliens living in L.A. city alone

    April 1, 2010 09:44 pm at 9:44 pm |
  4. Keith in Austin

    Everyone knows that census data is what determines political districting. Of course their reaching out to the underclass.

    If progressive liberals had their way, ACORN would have been intimately involved in the process.

    April 1, 2010 09:56 pm at 9:56 pm |
  5. GuyInVA

    Quick question regarding the census. Why is there a question specifically asking if household members are hispanic? There is always a block for race, but for each family member this time, I am asked if that person is hispanic.

    April 1, 2010 10:06 pm at 10:06 pm |
  6. Ed

    CNN...really? is this news. are we so stupid as a society that we can no longer discern obvious metaphors from truly stupid remarks? How would any reasonably intelligent person interpret the Congressman's remarks in any way other than the obvious metaphor?

    We are a stupid nation. And, CNN? is this what you stooped to....sensational headlines with empty content?

    April 1, 2010 10:46 pm at 10:46 pm |