This Saturday, LUPE leaders wrapped up a four week-long campaign of colonia walking for the Census. Colonia leaders and organizers spent many hours per week polling colonia residents to find out how many had received their Census applications and helping residents report problems with the Census.
“We are making sure residents in the colonias do count,” said organizer Javier Parra who has been going door to door in colonias north of Peñitas, including Pueblo de Palmas, Taurus, and Salida del Sol. “And we saw that it was necessary to do a house-to-house campaign.” He added that it was important that residents participate in the house-to-house campaign instead of bringing only outsiders. For that reason, LUPE member and leader Lizbeth Peña has been going door to door in her colonia, Pueblo de Palmas, making sure her neighbors have received their Census forms. Lizbeth knows her colonia well and shows her neighbors that it is important to be counted.
The colonia residents and LUPE organizers spent a total of 150 hours going door to door talking to residents. LUPE members and volunteers also participated in three telethons and spent countless hours calling people asking if they had received their Census form.
This effort was necessary because of the historic undercount in mainly Spanish-speaking communities nation-wide. It is estimated that during the 2000 Census, nearly 50% of residents didn’t return their forms the first time around. Additionally, this past April, Census officials decided not to mail Census forms to many colonias, instead sending officials door to door. This decision–criticized by Valley organizations working closely with colonia residents for reasons including workers’ unfamiliarity with colonias and residents’ mistrust of government agents–made necessary the increased effort on the part of Valley organizations like LUPE who have gained the trust of colonia residents.
LUPE has a strong commitment to making sure colonias are counted, as under counts in our colonias means missed opportunities for much needed federal resources.
Parras and Peña also used the block walking opportunity to raise awareness about LUPE, introducing the idea of house meetings, inviting residents to upcoming events—including this past weekend’s Acto de Presencia against SB 1070—and talking about the benefits LUPE provides to members.