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INS to limit enforcement actions during U.S. census

census
 

March 14, 2000
Web posted at: 6:18 p.m. EST (2318 GMT)

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- U.S. Immigration and Naturalization officials said this week that they will coordinate their enforcement activity with Census Bureau officials to avoid interfering with Census 2000.

INS investigators should not plan operations that may result in large numbers of arrests, other than standard patrols of the border and public transportation facilities, according to the guidelines.

The INS directive is part of a stepped-up effort by federal officials to obtain an accurate Census. The effort includes a national advertising campaign and targeting schoolchildren.

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"It is the longstanding view of the Department of Justice that the Constitution requires that all inhabitants of the United States, including illegal aliens, be enumerated in the census," Michael A. Pearson, an executive assistant commissioner at the INS, wrote in a memo to regional INS directors and made public Tuesday.

"It is crucial that undocumented as well as documented aliens understand that they are expected to respond to census-takers and questionnaires, and that there is no nexus between the census and INS enforcement activities," Pearson added.

The guidelines say the INS will "minimize its visibility" during peak census collection periods, "exercising particular consideration in primarily residential areas." Peak periods are expected to be in May and June of this year, but in some areas the information collecting may begin as early as March or end as late as August.

One organization devoted to protecting immigrant rights applauded the guidelines.

"While it is not a full guarantee of protection, it helps us encourage undocumented immigrants to participate in the census," said Glenn D. Magpantay of the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund.

"Immigrants and new citizens do not distinguish between INS agents and census-takers. A moratorium is necessary so we can encourage our communities to freely and fully answer the questions of government workers knocking on doors in apartment buildings and neighborhoods."

The guidelines do not preclude INS officers from entering residential areas to conduct ongoing investigations, such as executing an arrest warrant for a criminal alien.

The government began mailing out around 98 million Census 2000 forms on Monday.



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RELATED SITES:
U.S. Census Bureau
U.S. Census 2000
  • Fill out your census form on the Web
Census Monitoring Board

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