Frequenty Asked Questions

What is the Census?

The census is the official count of all people living in the United States. The census occurs every ten years and the next census will be in 2010.

Why is there a Census?

The U.S. Constitution-Article 1, Section II, requires that a national population count take place every 10 years. In 1790, the decennial count was established by the government to determine the number of seats, and thus political representation, per state within the U.S. House of Representatives. In 2010, Census data will also be used to allocate over $400 billion per year in federal funds to states and local communities for essential public programs.

When does the Census take place?

By March 2010, each household will receive a questionnaire in the mail or in person. April 1, 2010 is Census Day, the official date when your census questionnaires should be returned by mail or delivered to a “Be Counted” site. If for any reason you need assistance, there will be Census Enumerators (community workers) who are available to assist you in your community to ensure you and your families are counted. In December 2010, the Office of the Census will submit the official count results to the White House. The President will announce the new 2010 count to commence the redistricting and reapportionment process.

Does the census form ask questions about immigration status?

No, they do not. Furthermore, census responses are confidential and protected by the strongest privacy laws we have. No government agency, landlord or employer can get any household’s census information, even with a court order.

Is my personal information protected?

Yes, all Census employees take an oath of nondisclosure and are sworn for life to protect the confidentiality of your data. The penalty for violating this is a fine of up to $250,000 or imprisonment of up to five years, or both.

Copyright 2009 MALDEF — Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund