Latinos puzzled by Bennett's latest bill

Latinos puzzled by Bennett's latest bill



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SALT LAKE CITY -- Members of Utah's Latino community say they don't understand why a U.S. senator for Utah wants the census bureau to start asking for people's citizenship status.

They're saying it not only fails to address illegal immigration, but could do more harm than good for Utah.

Sen. Bob Bennett's bill would require citizenship questions as part of the census survey. He introduced the bill Thursday, co-sponsored by three other Republicans.

In a statement, Bennett said, "It does not make any sense for congressional seats and the Electoral College to be determined by a process that unfairly provides the advantage to those communities with high illegal populations."

Utah Sen. Luz Robles, D-Salt Lake City, worries the bill is counterproductive at best, at a time when the emphasis is to stand up and be counted.

"That's the message that we're trying to get to people," she explains, "so we can get the funding we need and we deserve as residents of this great state, and also to make sure we get our fourth congressional seat, which I think we need."

The census, conducted every 10 years, determines each state's allocation of federal funds as well as the correct proportion of representation within Congress. Utah narrowly missed getting a fourth congressional seat out of the last census.

Robles doesn't deny that the U.S. has a broken immigration system, but she says the census isn't the way to address it.

"I just don't see how that question is going to make any difference for what we're trying to accomplish," she says, pointing out that we already have a pretty good idea of how many illegal immigrants are in each state. "The purpose of the census is to count everyone."

E-mail: bbruce@ksl.com

Becky Bruce

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