It’s one of the fastest-growing populations in D-FW.
By 2022, Latinos are expected to be the majority population in Texas.
But, historically they are the most undercounted population when it comes to the U.S. Census.
"You need to know who is here to better determine fiscal and educational goals," said Domingo Garcia, President of the League of United Latin American Citizens.
Latino leaders say many Hispanics, especially those who have entered the country illegally, are afraid to fill out the forms even if it’s perfectly legal.
In 1790, the U.S. passed the Census Act to determine the population count, not the count of citizens.
"Everybody counts. The fact of the matter is everybody uses the roads, no matter the immigration status. Everybody uses the schools. Everybody is going to need help at Parkland or private enterprise,” said Garcia.
The census determines where billions of dollars go. The money funds everything from schools to social services for the next 10 years.
Yet, many Latinos still hesitate to participate.
"People are afraid that filling out the census may jeopardize them in the future," said Garcia.
Garcia says they fear deportation, even though by law the census does not ask about immigration status. It’s nowhere on the form.
"And again the census is confidential and there were attempts to ask citizenship questions and those were defeated by the courts," said Garcia.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of Americans who are undercounted is about 4% of the population but among Latinos, the undercount is more than 7%. It’s estimated that nearly half a million Latino children were undercounted in the 2010 census.
”I think the census is a good tool for us to be able to not only provide representation locally but also congressionally,” said Luna.
As the old saying goes, "There is power in numbers." For years Latino leaders say they haven't had the power that matches those numbers.
"There has never been a Latino mayor in the history of Dallas, even though Latinos are the majority of the city and we need to be able to change that," said Garcia.
And in D-FW, a Latino has never held a Congressional seat.
"To me, quite frankly, it’s still unbelievable to me that with the population in just Dallas and Tarrant Counties alone we still don’t hold a Congressional seat in Congress in North Texas,” said Ramiro Luna with Somos Tejas.
That’s why Luna has hit the streets and is going door-to-door with Somas Tejas. He wants to make sure Latinos fill out their census forms.
“Door to door is really one of the best ways to reach some of these community members,” said Luna.
The census is used for redistricting to draw up the lines on who gets seats on the city council, school board, state Legislature, and Congress. Latino leaders say for years those in power have tried to intentionally keep them underrepresented.
For example, take Congressional District 33 and the way it’s drawn.
It starts in Fort worth, stretches across Arlington, and then into part of Dallas. Latino leaders say it’s to keep the seat from becoming majority Latino.
"LULAC has had to sue the state of Texas every 10 years for the last 50 years to get fair lines," said Garcia.
In addition, Latino groups are not only trying to get an accurate census count but also register more eligible Latinos to vote.
Because they say every person and every vote counts.
The last day to fill out the census is Sept. 30.
You can complete the questionnaire online at this link.
You can also return the paper questionnaire by mail.