Questions of safety arise as 2010 U.S. Census approaches

By Kontji Anthony - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - Efforts are underway to collect data for the 2010 U.S. Census.  Area census organizers say your very livelihood can depend on your participation in the census.

Since its inception, the census has raised continued public skepticism.  The purpose of the census is to count every inhabitant in America.  That information is used to distribute more than 400 billion dollars in federal money.

Political Science expert, Dr. Doug Imig, says that safety has been one of the main concerns of the public since the U.S. Census began in 1790.

"If I open the door to this person I may be revealing information I don't want to share with this person," Imig said.

Census organizers say privacy is their number one priority, including undocumented citizens.

Terrance Fluker of the Memphis U.S. Census Bureau said all census workers go through a criminal background check, wear badges and take an oath of confidentiality.

"The president himself cannot look at your census form if he wants to," Fluker said.

Fluker also said there are good reasons to take the census.

"In 2000, 35% of the state did not fill it out and a lot of that 35% was here," Fluker said.  "Memphis missed out on a lot of federal dollars because of that."

Census money funds roads, schools, hospitals, public housing and assistance programs, and helps businesses determine if they will locate here.  It also determines how many congressmen and house representatives the state gets.

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