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Dan Arnold speaking at a tea party rally

Thought the 2010 Census was dead and gone? Think again, and be forewarned.

At least, that’s the alert coming from Dan Arnold, chairman of the Manassas Tea Party in Virginia, who is alarmed because he just got the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey.

“Apparently being forced to fill out the census was not enough,” said Arnold. “I now have to fill out – under threat of legal penalty – a 28-page survey giving the Commerce Department very personal information about the inhabitants of my household! It’s nothing but an insidious attempt to gather private information on all citizens.”

The survey sent to Arnold is addressed “To the Resident of” his Virginia home address, and it demands that an adult surrender the names, sex and ages of up to 12 occupants staying there for more than two months.

In questions 7-48, the ACS demands detailed personal information for up to five household occupants. The Census Bureau claims that survey results are aggregated and shared with federal, state and local governments, plus the public, to “enable your community leaders from government, business and non-profit organizations to plan more effectively.”

Last year, WND senior staff writer Jerome Corsi reported critics called many of the survey’s questions invasive and irrelevant.

In 2009, Corsi interviewed Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas, about his bill to make most of the survey’s answers 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.”

Arnold agrees.

“This is unlawful search and seizure. There’s nothing to stop the feds from showing up at our houses and saying they want to go through our files,” he said.

The questions ask for many details about the personal
lives of individuals, including place of birth, residences,
education, military service, type of
work and precise location of work. The survey also asks the time they leave home; how
long it takes to get to work; whether they walked, rode a bicycle
or drove; what kind of vehicle they drove; and how many people commuted with
them.

For example, question 14 asks: “a. Does this person speak a language other than English at home? b. What language? c. How well does this person speak English?”

Question 15: “a. Did this person live in this house or apartment 1 year ago? b. Where did this person live 1 year ago?”

Question 16: “Is this person CURRENTLY covered by any of the following types of health insurance or health coverage plans? Mark ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ for EACH type of coverage in items a – h [in 'h' person must specify insurance carrier].”

Question 18 asks: “a. Because of physical, mental, or emotional condition, does this person have serious difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions? b. Does this person have serious difficulty walking or climbing stairs? c. Does this person have difficulty dressing or bathing?”

Question 19: “Because of physical, mental, or emotional condition, does this person have serious difficulty doing errands alone such as visiting a doctor’s office or shopping?”

Questions 21-23 ask: “In the PAST 12 MONTHS did this person get – a. Married? b. Widowed? c. Divorced? d. Separated? e. Never married? How many times has this person been married? In what year did this person last get married?”

Questions 28: “a. Does this person have a VA serviced-connected disability rating? b. What is this person’s service-connected disability rating?”

Question 29: “a. LAST WEEK, did this person work for pay at a job or business? b. LAST WEEK, did this person do ANY work for pay, even for as little as one hour?”

Question 30: “At what location did this person work LAST WEEK?”

Question 31: “How did this person usually get to work LAST WEEK?”

A guide explaining the survey says “YOUR ANSWERS ARE CONFIDENTIAL AND REQUIRED BY LAW.” It cites federal statutes authorizing the ACS and says: “No one except Census Bureau employees may see your completed form and they may be fined and/or imprisoned for any disclosure of your answers. The same law that protects the confidentiality of your answers requires that you provide the information asked in this survey to the best of your knowledge.”

According to the Congressional Research Service, a division of the Library of Congress, “Title 13, Section 221, provides for a fine of not more than $100 for refusal or neglect to answer questions; pursuant to Title 18, Sections 3559 and 3571, the Sentencing Reform Act of 1984, the possible fine has been adjusted to not more than $5,000.”

With the threat of a fine for not complying, Arnold called the Herndon office of his congressman, Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va., for help.

Arnold said that he spoke to Wolf’s director of constituent services, Judy McCrary, and she asked him to send his grievances via e-mail.

“I’m going to hold Frank Wolf’s feet to the fire on this,” Arnold said.

McCrary told WND she’s brought the survey to the attention of Wolf and others on the congressional staff.

“I think in our last conversation about this we decided we’re going to get it to the Government Oversight Committee to see if there’s something they want to do,” she said.

“We’re probably not the only office that heard about this, and maybe other members are trying to do something.”

McCrary provided a Dec. 15, 2010, report by the Congressional Research Service.

“The American Community Survey: Development, Implementation, and Issues for Congress” report says the ACS is a replacement for the Census Bureau’s decennial census long form which was sent to 17 percent of U.S. housing units in the year 2000. The report notes “resistance” by citizens, members of Congress and media in the year 2000. It says that since 2005, the ACS has been sent to approximately 3 million housing units per year and the Obama administration intends to increase the number by sending it to 3.5 million dwellings in Fiscal Year 2011.

The 2010 CRS report states:

Of the Obama Administration’s $1.267 billion appropriations request for the [Census] Bureau in FY2011, $44 million, if approved, would go toward increasing the annual ACS sample size from about 2.3 percent to 2.5 percent of the population (3.5 million housing units), to improve the tract-level reliability of ACS estimates. Under an FY2011 continuing appropriations act (H.J.Res. 101; P.L. 111-290), the Bureau is funded through December 18, 2010, at an annualized amount of $1.223 billion.

An ongoing concern for some members of Congress and their constituents is that responses to the ACS are required. The conferees on H.J.Res. 2, the Consolidated Appropriations Resolution, 2003 (P.L. 108-7; 117 Stat. 11), included $1 million for the Bureau to test a voluntary versus mandatory ACS. The test findings, reported in 2003 and 2004, showed a 20.7-percentage-point drop in the overall ACS response rate when answers were optional. The Bureau estimated that if the survey became voluntary, maintaining data reliability would necessitate increasing the annual sample size from about three million to 3.7 million housing units, at an additional cost of at least
$59.2 million per year in FY2005 dollars.

The CRS report notes Poe’s 2009 bill, which died with the 111th Congress because it was stalled in the House Committee on Government Oversight and Reform.

Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., is the new chairman of that committee. He and new House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, announced the availability of broadcast-quality Oversight hearing videos from the beginning of 2009 for a more transparent and accountable government. Issa said videos of Oversight and Reform Committee hearings are presented in partnership with a non-profit run by Carl Malamud, president and founder of Public.Resource.org..

Arnold said, “Somebody should raise bloody hell about the American Community Survey. It’s outrageous and terrifying, and I’d be willing to testify before Congress.”

Arnold believes that if more Americans knew about it, “there’d be an uproar.”

WND has reported that prosecutions for failing to respond to Census demands are extremely rare.

During the 2010 Census season, the leader of the Constitution Party of Oregon recommended that people respond only to the “enumeration” part of the Census and suggested the rest of it is the equivalent of an unpleasant medical procedure.

“The Census has become some sort of involuntary colonoscopy,” said the statement at the time from Bob Ekstrom, the Columbia County chairman for the party. “With the 2010 A.D. Census, the federal government has overstepped its authority. Citizens are balking at demands that they divulge all kinds of private information.”

Ekstrom said, “Article 1, Section 2, Paragraph 3 of the U.S. Constitution gives us the legal directives regarding the Census. Anyone who is serious about their citizenship and committed to the defense of the Constitution against enemies, foreign or domestic, should willingly supply the number of persons from your household.”

But he added, “Not anything except the number of persons in your household.”

In 2007, when the American Community Survey portion of the Census Bureau’s responsibilities were under way, 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.”


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