Hispanic Groups at Odds Over Census

Patrick Fox, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, January 8, 2010

While government officials blanket the area to encourage participation in the 2010 Census, some Hispanic groups are at odds as to whether to stand up and be counted.

The Rev. Antonio Mansogo, president of the Confraternity of Pastors and Ministers of Atlanta, is advising undocumented residents to avoid the census. He said the failure of lawmakers to enact immigration reform and the implementation of the new inmate screening program, known as 287g, has raised suspicions among Hispanics.

“With the absence of immigration reform, we are very concerned,” Mansogo said. “As you know, the 287g program is causing so many problems. The bridge that used to be between the police and the Latino community is completely broken.”

He said the National Coalition of Latino Clergy is mounting drives to boycott the census in order to pressure Congress for immigration reform. That group, headed by the Rev. Miguel Rivera, supports an immediate legalization plan that will allow undocumented immigrants to pay a fine and comply with rigorous guidelines in order for them to be considered eligible for permanent residency status.

Mansogo, pastor of the Ministerio Pentecostal Central de Atlanta in Norcross, said the drive is gaining ground in Gwinnett County, which has the largest Hispanic population in Georgia. Based on his community contacts and lukewarm turnout for census forums, he said he is convinced 75 percent of the undocumented Latino community will not participate.

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