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Census threat: $5,000 fines

Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas

How many people live in your home? Are any of them Hispanic? Are the people who live in your home citizens? How big is your home? Do you have difficulty making decisions or climbing stairs? How much do you pay for your sewage system? Are you married? What’s your rent or mortgage payment? Do you own an automobile? Are you on food stamps? How much money do you make?

These are just a sample of the highly detailed and personal questions asked in the mandatory American Community Survey the U.S. Census Bureau will send to a sample of some 3 million U.S. households in addition to the 2010 Census.

Refusing to answer the questions or answering them incorrectly will subject citizens to hefty fines.

The U.S. Census website for the American Community Survey warns that under Title 13 of the U.S. Code, Section 221, anyone who refuses to answer the 11-page 48-question survey, or who answers the questions with false information, will be subject to a possible $5,000 fine.

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As WND reported last year, Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas, introduced H.R. 3131 to make participation in the extended ACS survey voluntary.

In an e-mail to WND, Poe repeated his charge that the American Community Survey amounts to an Obama administration attempt to create a “government dossier on American citizens.”

Unable to move the resolution through a Democratic Party–controlled House of Representatives, Poe continues to argue that the law should be changed to make the American Community Survey voluntary.

“The federal government has a constitutional duty to count the number of people in the United States every 10 years,” Poe told WND. “But the federal government has no business keeping a comprehensive personal profile on every American citizen.

“The government can take this detailed information about each person who answers the American Community Survey and use that information for its own purposes,” he said. “This is Big Brother at its worst. To me, it’s an invasion of privacy by the federal government all in the name of taking care of us.”

WND has consistently found the Census Department difficult to reach for comment. No media phone number or contact person is published on the home page of the U.S. Census Bureau. By typing “news” into the Census Bureau homepage search engine, a page displays the phone number 301-763-3030 as the bureau’s Public Information Office. Dialing that number, WND received a recording that directed news reporters to dial yet another number, 301-763-3691. Dialing that number, WND encountered voice mail.

After a request for a call on the voice mail, the Census Bureau Public Information Office neglected to return the call.

Among the questions asked on the 11-page American Community Survey are:

The American Community Survey is available as a PDF file in English or Spanish on the Census Bureau’s website.

In 2007 during work on the American Community Survey portion of the Census Bureau’s responsibilities, spokesman Clyve Richmond told WND, “The Census Bureau has never prosecuted anybody. We try to work with people and explain how useful the information is.”

The Associated Press reported this week the Census Bureau “rarely” seeks fines for failing to answer.


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