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Enumerating Hispanic Immigrants: Observations from Census Studies and Recommendations for an Accurate Count

*Victor Garcia, Indiana University of Pennsylvania 

Keywords: Hispanics, Immigrants, Enumerations, Census, 2010 Census

This paper addresses the challenges in accurately counting Hispanic immigrants who are a hard-to-reach and a hard-to-study population. Hispanic immigrants make up nearly 40 percent of the total Hispanic population, and all indicators are that it will continue to increase over the next two decades. The paper is based on findings from four U.S. Census Bureau sponsored ethnographic studies, conducted over the last 20 years. From these studies, especially the last one, the Nonresponse Followup Census 2010 Observations of Hispanics and Others in the Greater Dallas Area, barriers to an accurate count and correct responses to the enumerator questionnaire were identified. Among them were a distrust of the U.S. federal government, as a result of increased deportations and an anti-immigrant sentiment in the country, the lack of bilingual and bicultural enumerators, unfamiliarity with the decennial census process, and issues of language, including illiteracy. If future censuses are to be successful with this immigrant population, they must include enumeration strategies aimed at mitigating these and other barriers. A number of recommendations are presented and discussed.

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