A mariachi band played Mexican tunes as leaders at a nearby table in front of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church in Sunset Park Brooklyn where leaders implored Latino residents to sign up for the census count.
What leaders received at this rally was residents of many ethnic and religious backgrounds who normally stay away from programs and counts because of fear government.
The rally was one of several being held around the city to generate more completed census applications to assure government services based on the number of people living in the city. The others held in Brooklyn were at Brookdale Hospital and a larger one at Grand Army Plaza.
Organized by Council Member Carlos Menchaca and Carlina Rivera, they were also joined by Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez, Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, and Assemblywoman Jo Anne Simon. Some activists held up banners and signs, in various languages, urging residents to take the census without fear.
Residents crowded up to the table to allow themselves and their family to be counted.
“This is the conversation we need to have everywhere – it takes 10 minutes, really simple to fill out the census,” Menchaca said. “Go to the table and do the census right now.”
Rep. Velazquez accused President Donald Trump of waging a campaign against immigrants and those new to the country by trying to get a line in the census that might scare off some people from filling it out.
“I will say to you this census is about people – there is no way we can tackle issues of systemic racism, and disparity for people of color if we don’t get the count correctly,” Velazquez said. “We fought the Trump administration in court because they put the issue of citizenship in the census as a way to intimidate immigrants. The count is a constitutional mandate for every state to count all it’s residents who live in the United State and we will make sure the government will not intimidate immigrants.”
“How much resources we get for schools, health care and services will be determined by this count,” Velazquez said.
The Public Advocate Williams was also equally adamant about people doing the census, saying “if you don’t like Donald Trump, you should fill out the census.”
“We know we got to get out and vote in November, but right now, the important thing is if you are not a supporter of Donald Trump, you have to fill out the census, because they are doing everything they can to discourage and make people afraid from filling out the census,” Williams said. “But everything they have done, thanks to the congresswoman, thanks to elected officials, they have lost.”
“We are loosing hospital seats, school seats, we are loosing housing assistance – if you ever need a hospital room, it might not be there,” Williams said.
Daniella Lllepa with her daughter Ligia, held up a banner calling on the Latino community to finish their census.
“We’re trying to get everyone to be counted, because it depends on the future of our community,” Llepa said. “It affects schools, hospitals, community resources, not only for us, but our future children and our families. We unfortunately right now have a president who terrorizes the Latino community and trying to prevent our community from getting counted. We know a lot of people have fear because of their immigration status and they don’t know how important the census is.”