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The Nonsensical Census

Despite the use of modern technology designed to ensure the accuracy of its count, the U.S. Census Bureau has reached a conclusion about population growth in Queens that defies common sense. According to the census, from 2000-10, the borough gained only 1,334 residents.

Ridiculous.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg and other elected officials representing Queens are flabbergasted. Even a casual observer should recognize that western Queens has experienced enormous growth over the last 10 years. Although the Census Bureau spent $15 million in his district alone, state Sen. Joe Addabbo claims the bureau did not get the job done.

The census reported a 3 percent decrease in occupancy in neighborhoods such as Long Island City, Astoria and Corona. But elected officials say the survey does not reflect the 6 percent growth in new housing in the same area.

The frustration and skepticism extends to every corner of Queens. But the undercount was obvious in neighborhoods with large immigrant populations.

It may be the bureau got accurate numbers in North Dakota but in urban settings like Queens, with a large and growing immigrant population, it appears to have failed.

Even though the government promised the information collected would not be turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, it is likely the thousands of undocumented aliens living in Queens were afraid to fill out census forms. But these immigrant families need housing, food, medical services and schools for children. Because of the undercount, Queens will not get federal aid.

Standing in Jackson Heights, a community bursting at the seams, the mayor announced he would challenge the finding. The city will file a formal appeal under the Census Count Resolution process. This is important for many reasons.

“It is critical that the Census Bureau gets this count right so we don’t lose critical federal funding over the next decade,” said U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand.

Community activist Martha Chavez warned that if the numbers were not corrected, Queens would lose “a lot of government resources.”

The bureau should recognize that its numbers do not make sense. The count is flawed and must be corrected.

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