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 first section of the ACS asks for the full name of each person living in the household, the total number of people, how the people are related to each other, the date of birth, sex and race of each person and whether any are of Hispanic, Latino or Spanish origin.

  • The second section surveys housing, asking whether the household is a mobile home, a one-family detached home, a one-family home attached to one or more houses, an apartment or a boat, RV or van.
  • Then the ACS asks what year the building was built; when “Person No. 1” in the housing section moved into the home; the size of land the home is on; what agricultural products were sold from the property in the last 12 months; whether the property was used as a business; how many separate rooms are in the house; whether the house has hot and cold running water; whether the house has a flush toilet, a shower or bathtub, a sink with a faucet, a stove or range, a refrigerator and a telephone; how many cars, vans and trucks are kept at the property; and what fuel is most used at the property – gas, electricity, fuel oil or kerosene, coal or coke, wood, solar energy, or “other.”
  • Further, the housing section in the ACS asks what was last month’s bill for energy, what was the cost of water and sewage for the housing unit in the last year, whether anyone in the household received food stamps in the last year, the monthly rental or mortgage cost of the unit, an estimate of the resale value of the housing unit, the unit’s annual property taxes and the annual cost of fire, hazard and flood insurance on the property.
  • The ACS wants to know if Person No. 1 in the household is a citizen; if the person was born in the U.S. or when the person came to the U.S.; whether the person had attended college in the last three years and what is the highest level of education the person has completed; the person’s ancestry or ethnic origin; whether the person speaks a language other than English at home, and if yes, what language; whether the person lived in this housing unit or an apartment a year ago; whether the person is covered by health insurance, and if yes, by what type of health insurance.
  • Next, Person No. 1 must answer if he/she is deaf or has difficulty hearing; if the person is blind or has serious difficulty seeing even when wearing glasses; if the person has difficulty concentrating, remembering or making decisions because of a physical, mental or emotional condition; whether the person has serious difficulty walking or climbing stairs; whether the person has difficulty bathing or dressing; whether the person has difficulty doing errands alone such as visiting a doctor’s office or shopping because of a physical, mental, or emotional condition; what is the person’s marital status; whether the person has given birth to any children in the past 12 months; whether the person has any grandchildren under the age of 18 in the house or apartment; whether the person has ever served on active duty in the U.S. armed forces; whether the person has a VA service-connected disability rating, and if yes, what percentage is the VA disability rating.
  • The ACS also asks whether Person No. 1 worked last week for pay; at what address, town, city and country did the person work last week; how did the person get to work and if by car, bus, railroad, taxi, motorcycle or bicycle or on foot; whether the person, if unemployed, has been actively looking for work in the past four weeks; whether the person, if unemployed, was available to start work if offered a job or recalled to work in the past week; and how many weeks the person worked in the past year and how many hours per week.
  • Finally, Person No. 1 must disclose whether his or her most recent work was for a private for-profit company, a private not-for-profit, a local government, a state government or the federal government, or whether the person was self-employed in their own incorporated or unincorporated business, or whether the person worked without pay in a family business or on the family farm; the name of the employer; the type of business; whether the business was manufacturing, wholesale trade, retail trade, or other; the exact job description of the person and his or her most important duties; his or her income over the past 12 months and the amount of that income that came from wages, salary, commission, bonuses or tips; whether the person received any Social Security or Railroad Retirement benefits, or any other type of public assistance in the past 12 months; and the person’s entire income over the past 12 months, both from employment or public-welfare sources.

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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