Hispanics and the Census

Download MP3  (Right-click or option-click the link.)

Welcome to American Mosaic in VOA Special English. I'm Doug Johnson.

  • Today on our show we play music by She & Him.
  • And take a look in Washington at some art on the street that is not street art.
  • But first we report on American efforts to get Hispanics to take part in the population count called the census.

Hispanics and the Census

By law, the United States is required to count its population every ten years.  In the last national census, or population count, Hispanics, or Latinos, made up twelve percent of the total population. Hispanic-Americans are the fastest growing group in the country. The census is taking place again. Officials say it is important that all Hispanics are counted.  Barbara Klein has more.

Many Hispanics are recent immigrants who work in factories or on farms.  Many others work as day laborers.  Many of them are living in the United States without legal immigration papers. But the census law says they still need to be counted.

Everyone living in the United States received census forms to fill out in March. They were supposed to mail back the form last month.  Now, millions of census workers are visiting homes that did not return their census forms.

The census count is important because areas with higher populations will get more representation in Congress.  Highly populated areas also get more money from the federal government. A Census Bureau official says four hundred billion dollars in grants and loans will be available over the next ten years. That money will be given out based on how many people live in different communities.

The census form asks ten questions, including the number of people living in each house, their ethnic group and race.  Officials say that personal information will not be shared publicly. Still, the number of people in immigrant communities who respond to the census is low.  Los Angeles, California is home to many Hispanics. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa says immigrants are among the groups that need to be urged to provide the information.

Officials believe that language difficulties cause problems for many in the Hispanic community.  In addition, more than ten million immigrants are thought to be in the United States illegally.

Most of them are Hispanic.  These people often have false documents.  Many live in fear of being caught and sent back to their home countries.  But census officials are not permitted to ask about a person's legal status or share information with immigration enforcement officials.

Officials in Los Angeles have launched a major media campaign aimed at Hispanics, including videos and digital networking.  Actress Rosario Dawson starred in one of the videos.  She says a correct census means more money for immigrant communities.

ROSARIO DAWSON: "I'm saying that this money, this opportunity that could be lost if it's not used will not happen to you again for another ten years, ten years. So it's really very important that you make your voices heard."

A New Public Art Project for Washington

The National Museum of Women in the Arts has brought some major color and sparkle to Washington, D.C.'s New York Avenue. The museum recently created an outdoor sculpture area in the center of the city. Four large, colorful statues by the French artist Niki de Saint Phalle are bringing art outdoors so people who live and work nearby can enjoy it every day.

In the future, other works by female artists will be shown as part of the museum's "New York Avenue Sculpture Project".  Katherine Cole has more.

"The Three Graces" is one of four sculptures newly on display on New York Avenue. It gives a good example of Niki de Saint Phalle's playful art. The work is made up of three huge female forms that seem to be dancing.

She had been writing songs for years. But she had never met a musician she felt fully shared her musical point of view until she met Matt Ward. Here is the song "Me and You."

Deschanel and Ward have said that they chose the name "She & Him" because it was simple and did not call attention to itself. They named their albums "Volume One" and "Volume Two" for the same reason. They wanted the music to come first so that the songs would be what people remember most. We leave you with "Over it Over Again."

p>I'm Doug Johnson. Our program was written by Dana Demange and Jim Tedder with reporting by Mike O'Sullivan. Caty Weaver was the producer.