The Census Caravan Rolls On
Voces holds its second caravan to get Census forms filled out and urge citizens to vote.
Saturday, July 11th was a bright and sunny day as volunteers convened in the parking lot across the street from McDonald’s on 16th and Washington. The efforts to have the latino/a/x community fill out the census is a train that hasn’t stopped and Voces de la Frontera is here to make sure it happens — along with registering to vote, which goes hand in hand with the census drive. Erica Ramirez of Voces is a proponent of latino/a/x community members doing their part to be counted, with a die hard attitude about making their voices heard. She speaks into a megaphone, addressing the crowd in Spanish and English. “It’s very important we fill out the census, as less than 35 percent of the population that live in the ZIP codes we are about to drive through have completed it. Let’s not forget funding for our schools and how much money we receive to repair our communities comes from how many people fill it out. Let’s drive through here, make some noise and get people to listen!”
And that is exactly what we do, we volunteers on bikes with literature and pamphlets stuffed into the bags attached to our handle bars.
The caravan has people blasting music and honking their horns and it works. People are coming out on their porches and looking up from under the hoods of their cars, clapping and cheering us on. The bike volunteers are riding up to people and asking if they have filled out their census and/or registered to vote. Everyone is receptive to the information and willing to listen.
This is the second caravan that has been organized this year, and as the time to fill out the census draws to a close, there are plans for one more on July 25th. Voces de la Frontera is a community-based organization on Milwaukee’s South Side, and all-around entity for immigrant rights. The annual May Day march is organized through them, and many resources are provided for the undocumented population.
“People need to fill out the census regardless of their citizenship status. The main reason people are afraid to fill it out is because they feel their information will be compromised and they could possibly be arrested or deported,” Ramierz tells me. “The purpose of the caravan is to assuage those fears and let them know they are not alone.” While undocumented folks cannot vote, the caravan aims to reach out to the latino/a/x population in this part of Milwaukee who can, but sometimes fail to turnout. The caravan brings joy and exuberance to the process and shows that it can be fun, but the importance of it never falls by the wayside. Community is about giving each other a hand, while creating a chain reaction that will benefit us all. It is a wonderful time to be involved.
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