A Victory in the Senate with the Halt of the Vitter Amendment

November 5, 2009

Contact: Lizette Jenness Olmos  (202) 833-6130 ext. 16

Washington, DC – The League of United Latin American Citizens, the oldest and largest Hispanic civil rights organization in the country, National President Rosa Rosales issued the following statement on the Senate cloture vote today 60-39 rejecting the Vitter-Bennett amendment.

“The community won an important battle today in the fight for a fair and accurate 2010 census that counts every person in the United States as required by the U.S. Constitution. By voting today for cloture on the Commerce-State-Justice Appropriations bill, the Senate effectively ended debate on the divisive Vitter-Bennett amendment. The amendment, which would have forced the Census Bureau to add questions on citizenship and immigration status to the census form less than six months before the count, is clearly unconstitutional. Under the 14th amendment to the Constitution, the apportionment of members of the House of Representatives is based on a full count of persons – not just citizens – in each state.

Any changes to the 2010 census form would cause "logistical issues" because the bureau has already printed over 100 million copies of the form, which does not contain any questions about U.S. citizenship. Any attempt to exclude or deter illegal residents from participating in the decennial count would violate "the tradition and the law" of the census, which is mandated as a counting of all U.S. residents in the place where they usually live.

We commend the Senate for standing up for the Constitution and for sparing the nation from the damage the amendment would have done to the census and to the civil rights of millions of people – both native-born and immigrant – who would have been discouraged from being counted had the amendment passed. We also hope that today's vote sends a strong message that the Senate is committed to a 2010 census in which every person counts and every person is counted.”

The Census Bureau has enlisted the help of community leaders nationwide to encourage Hispanics to participate in the decennial count and to convince skeptical respondents that their personal information will be kept private.

The League of United Latin American Citizens, the oldest and largest Hispanic membership organization in the country, advances the economic conditions, educational attainment, political influence, health, housing and civil rights of Hispanic Americans through community-based programs operating at more than 700 LULAC councils nationwide.

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