(CNSNews.com) - Arlington County in Northern Virginia will try to maximize its population number in the 2010 Census by counting illegal immigrants, and part of the reason for doing so is to capture some of the $300 billion in federal funds distributed to local governments each year based on census numbers. That’s what local officials, Census Bureau officials and documents, and Rep. James Moran (D-Va.) indicated at a meeting on Wednesday.
Moran and Census officials told CNSNews.com they are preparing to reach out to illegal immigrants by emphasizing that they have nothing to fear from the census because it does not differentiate between illegal and legal residents. They added that the information, by law, cannot be shared with federal agencies -- Immigration and Naturalization Services (INS) and Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) -- responsible for immigration enforcement,
“The only way we are going to get those adequate services in terms of the federal level is to show that we have that need, and the only way that we can show we have that need irrefutably is through this census coming up next year,” Moran told the meeting of community activists.
Moran, who spoke with CNSNews.com several hours after the meeting, also confirmed that there is push to include in the census illegal immigrants who are residing in his district.
“We are going to use every opportunity to communicate to them that there is nothing to fear about disclosing information and a lot to gain, and just hope they believe us,” Moran said.
“I think everyone here knows it’s important that everyone be counted regardless of what status they have in life,” said Walter Tejada, a member of the Arlington County Board, at the meeting.
Earlier this month, the acting director of the U.S. Census Bureau, Thomas Mesenbourg, told CNSNews.com that the bureau intends to work with community organizations to ensure that every person residing in the United States, including all illegal aliens in the country, are counted in the 2010 Census.
The current 435 seats in the House of Representatives are divided among the states in proportion to their population, which is determined by the census conducted every 10 years. States with more people get more seats in the U.S. House.
This means that a state harboring more illegal immigrants could gain more House seats as long as the Census Bureau finds the illegals and counts them. It also means that the illegal population in the United States during a census year has the potential to alter the regional and philosophical balance of power in Congress.
According to an information sheet distributed at the meeting, the census is also instrumental in determining how federal funds are distributed.
“The 2010 Census is important,” says the information sheet that was distributed by the Census Bureau. “It determines the distribution of $300 billion annually of government funding for critical community services. It generates thousands of jobs. And it impacts your voice in Congress.”
The sheet also assures participating organizations that, “by law, the Census Bureau cannot share any individual’s answers with anyone including welfare and immigration agencies.”
Bernadine Anthony, who is a partnership specialist and team leader for the Census Bureau, confirmed in an interview that people participating in the census have nothing to fear because the census does not differentiate between legal and non-legal residents, and the information will not be shared with other government agencies.
“That’s absolutely right,” said Anthony when CNSNews.com asked her if the census differentiated between legal and non-legal residents. “There is no differentiation at all … The information is not shared with any other federal agency, entity or business.”
Barbara Favola, chairman of the Arlington County Board, said that getting residents to understand that the information will not be used against them is difficult but important because of the federal funds at stake.
“Somehow people think, and this is because of legitimate experiences they have had in their life, that if I participate, it’s going to be shared with the INS or an agency I don’t want it shared with,“ said Favola. “Billions of dollars flow to local governments on formula grants and these formula grants always consider population.”
Favola said that “the people who may be nervous about participating in this effort” need to understand that federal money can make their community a lot “more livable” and more “friendly.”
In an exclusive interview with CNSNews.com later on Wednesday, Moran warned that if illegal residents are not accurately counted, locals will be on the hook for paying for the services they use rather than the federal government, and that such a situation could spark animosity.
“We are going to wind up paying for their social services, their health, and especially their education costs -- and we are going to get no compensation for it because you can’t ask the federal government to fund illusory people,” Moran told CNSNews.com when asked what would happen with federal funds if illegals are not counted in the census.
“We are going to spend the money anyway, but if we don’t get an adequate turnout and representative sample then we are going to have to take the money from local property taxes, which causes resentment and means you have to cut back on other programs -- so it’s terribly important,” he said.
Moran also said that while the skewing of congressional districts due to illegal residents being counted in the census is an issue of “some concern,” it is not of primary concern.
“I am just concerned that every human being in need that we have any kind of responsibility for gets served, and the issue of whether illegal or not is not my first concern,” said Moran. “It’s of some concern, but its certainly not my highest priority.”
Moran said he considers himself to be a representative of all people living in his district, both legally and illegally alike.
“I consider myself to be a representative of everyone who lives within the boundaries of the 8th District and I’m going to try to do everything that is humanly possible to see that they live productive, healthy lives and, to the extent that I can, get them the citizenship,” said Moran.
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