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Report urges Census count to include the undocumented

Noting an effort to exclude undocumented immigrants from the 2010 Census, a Manhattan policy group advocates in a report out Thursday that it's in everyone's interest that all residents be counted, including the undocumented, to ensure communities receive adequate federal funding.

The report by the Drum Major Institute for Public Policy, "The Next Economic Imperative: Undocumented Immigrants in the 2010 Census," said: "Failing to gather accurate information about an estimated 12 million undocumented residents will make it too difficult for the country to recover from the worst recession in decades: local and state governments won't receive adequate funding for public services . . ."

Both Long Island county executives concurred with that conclusion.

"When it comes to undocumented persons, this is a problem that has been forced upon our local governments by the federal government that has failed to solve this issue," Nassau County Executive Thomas Suozzi said in an interview. "If the people are living here, that means that they're using services in one way or another. So independent of people's position on immigration, everyone should be in favor of Long Island getting more money."

Steve Levy, Suffolk's county executive, who has been a vocal opponent of illegal immigration, said in a statement: "We think that people should come into the country through legal channels. But if individuals are going to be allowed to be here illegally, we should at least get the money to cover costs that are borne by local governments for providing services."

The institute's report, which was partly funded by the Port Washington-based Hagedorn Foundation, is partly a response to conservative efforts including a joint resolution in Congress sponsored by a Michigan Republican, Rep. Candice Miller. The resolution seeks a constitutional amendment to base Census apportionment on "citizens" instead of "persons," as spelled out in the Constitution. The report said the bill violates the Constitution's mandate.

Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford) said he doesn't support constitutional amendments as a rule and doesn't think Miller's measure will pass. Nevertheless, he sympathized with its aim.

"I'm opposed to counting them [the undocumented] because it gives a legitimacy and a credibility to people who are illegally here," King said. "By counting them, we're sending mixed messages. We'd be putting dollars before principle."

Daniel Morris, institute spokesman, said the report sought to "break through the ideology and get to the core economics of this." He said with an estimated 100,000 undocumented residents on Long Island, an undercount of that group would mean much lost revenue, considering federal funding in New York State is nearly $2,000 per capita. "Such a loss would hurt all Long Island residents."

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