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U.S. Caribbean Census Push Gains Momentum With Senate Bill

NEW YORK – The push by Carib ID for a Caribbean origin category on the U.S. Census form continues to gain momentum, with the introduction on Tuesday of a companion U.S. Senate bill.

New York Senators Charles Schumer and Kristin Gillibrand on May 19, 2009 answered Carib ID`s call and introduced the companion bill to Rep. Yvette D. Clarke`s Caribbean Count Bill, (H.R. 2071), which was introduced in the House on April 23rd.

The Senate bill, like the House bill, states that in conducting the 2010 decennial census and every decennial census thereafter, the Secretary of Commerce shall include, in any questionnaire distributed or otherwise used for the purpose of determining the total population by states, a checkbox or other similar option by which respondents may indicate Caribbeanextraction or descent.

CaribID founder, Felicia Persaud, said Tuesday she is delighted at the way the effort, started only a year ago, has gained momentum.

`Caribbean nationals continue to be undercounted across the U.S. because they simply are not filling out the Census forms due to the fact that they have no option to accurately self-identify,` said Persaud. `This movement and the bills we at CaribID as a small group has been able to lobby for and secure to date are indications that lawmakers like Congresswoman Clarke and Senators Schumer and Gillibrand, understand our frustration at being dismissed and want to help us change that.`

`I want to commend Senators Gillibrand and Schumer for demonstrating great leadership by introducing the Senate companion to HR 2071: Caribbean Count Bill,` said Rep. Clarke. `Census Day is less than a year away, and it is imperative that every household participate in order to ensure an accurate count. Data generated by the Census is used to help equitably distribute federal funding from a wide range of government sources. A higher response rate from the Caribbean immigrant community would help ensure that more public resources are available to all New Yorkers.`
Clarke, also reiterated that `the bill does not call for an additional race category, but rather a self-identifying ancestry category/national origin in order to get a more accurate count of people of Caribbean descent living in the United States.`

`New York City is one of the most diverse cities in the world and must be fully represented in the census,` added Senator Schumer. `Including this checkbox would surely provide better representation of our great city and its Caribbean American population. New Yorkers of Caribbean descents are an essential part of the New York City population and they deserve to be accurately counted.`

`It`s time to make sure all New Yorkers are counted fairly and accurately in the census,` said new, New York Senator, Gillibrand. `New York`s Caribbean community contributes so much to our economy, our diverse culture and the way of the life that makes New York the great state it is. By failing to recognize Caribbean families in our census data, we are failing to obtain a true picture of the people, families and communities that make up New York and all of America. It`s time to make this important change.`

Meanwhile, on the House side, Congressman Charles Rangel, who recently introduced a similar bill for nationals from the Dominican Republic, signed on as a co-sponsor of Clarke`s H.R. 2071.

Data generated by the census is used not only to determine voter representation, but also to help equitably distribute federal funding from a wide range of government programs.

And Census data is an invaluable resource to private industry, helping businesses make sensible decisions about how and where to expand their capital. An accurate count of the Caribbean community will highlight their purchasing power and economic impact both in the U.S. and global markets.

Caribbean nationals are being urged by CaribID officials to fill out the 2010 Census form and write in their country of origin under question 8 while ticking `No Not Hispanic` and filling in their race.

CaribID officials also are calling on the many organization heads, Caribbean diplomats and others in all spectrum of the Caribbean Diaspora, to join in spreading the word and lending their support to the movement, since as a unit there is tremendous strength.

`So far, CaribID has done this push on its own, with its own resources and a few hands,` said Persaud. `Now is the time for all to join the movement, especially the media, Caribbean governments and organizations that stand to benefit the most from a boost in the numbers count that translates to political power, marketing and sponsorship dollars.`

Supporters of the CaribID movement to date include a number of media houses, chief among them One Caribbean radio, Edmond Braithwaite, Bobby Veira and Ave Brewster; Sherra Pierre Marche of Cbean Media.tv; CaribVoicerado.org, The Caribbean Voice newspaper, CIN TV`s Stephen Hill, Whatz Up TV, Caribbean Lifestyle TV, Ken Webb of Webb Internet Radio, Caribbean Riddims` Eddy Edwards, Jason Walker and Bruno Gaston of WFRG radio, TSO Production`s Sharon Gordon, Caribbean Vibes and The Caribbean Internet Network`s Michael Callendar, South Florida Caribbean News`s Ian Hamilton, Patrick Buddington and Toronto Lime among others. To help email [email protected]. For more information, log on to www.caribid2010.com.

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