Hamtramck officials are on the right path in making sure our city receives an accurate population count during next year’s decentennial Census.
Local preparations for the once-every-10-year national population count officially started on Monday with a meeting of the Hamtramck Complete County Committee. The importance of Hamtramck receiving an accurate head count cannot not be overstated.
The count ensures that the city will receive its fair share of state and federal money for all sorts of needs, such as public safety, education and street and sewer repair to name just a few.
Hamtramck has proven it can get the job done when it comes to the Census. In 2000, city officials overcame petty political differences and truly worked together. Shahab Ahmed, who is now a city councilmember, was instrumental in making sure the growing Bengali community took part in the Census.
The result was an increase in population of about 5,000. The city’s official count is at 23,000. It is thought that the true population count is closer to 30,000.
Convincing immigrants and those who do not speak English or speak very little English to participate is a tough sell.
Immigrants tend to fear taking part in anything related to the government for fear that information can and will be used against them.
Despite assurances that only the Census Bureau has access to this information it falls on deaf ears. The trust factor is just not there.
And this is largely where the city’s challenge will be: convincing Hamtramck’s sizeable immigrant community to not fear government action against it.
The Census is mandated by our Constitution and has always been problematic. Trying to get a handle on the size and scope of this country is a tricky thing.
But again, the payoff in cooperating and filling out Census forms is that Hamtramck will be in line to receive its share of state and federal funding. You’ll be reading a lot about the Census as the months lead up to when the Census forms are mailed out, which will be next March.
During the next several months the job of encouraging the community to cooperate with the Census will fall on residents as well. After all, this is your city, do you want to see it prosper? Of course you do, so please help get the word out.
By Charles Sercombe