- The FBI and U.S. Census Bureau are investigating an incident
at the El Paso census office in which an FBI agent tried to obtain census
- The release of such credentials is a federal crime, census
officials said, and the FBI agent was denied them.
- "He wanted to use them for law enforcement purposes,
and we flat coldly refused any help, said Steve Jost, associate director
for communication for the bureau. He said a census worker convicted of
releasing confidential information faces a fine up to $5,000 and five years
- Jost said the El Paso incident is the only one of its
kind for the 2000 census, and emphasizes the Census Bureau,s vow to keep
records confidential. Census officials said confidentiality is especially
important in the border region, where some residents may feel threatened
by federal law enforcement officials.
- El Pasoan Cesar Duron said that he,d be more leery of
the census after he,d heard about the FBI incident.
- "But I,ll still fill them out, he said.
- Census Bureau Director Kenneth Prewitt used the El Paso
incident as an example of how his agency works to keep census information
- "It didn,t affect census information, but we didn,t
want to appear to be working with law enforcement, Prewitt said at a press
conference in Washington, D.C.
- El Paso FBI officials confirmed that an agent went to
the El Paso census office to discuss possible investigative techniques,
FBI spokesman Al Cruz said.
- "He was advised by his direct supervisor that those
were not the proper methods that we conduct our business, Cruz said. He
didn,t identify the agent or discuss any disciplinary actions that might
- David Hoffman, a Census Bureau spokesman, said no law
enforcement agent could obtain credentials to be door-to-door counters.
People who get badges have been hired, tested and trained by the bureau.
- Westsider Carlos Maese said he,d prefer not to participate
in the census because he doesn,t want anybody to know much about him.
- "I don,t mind being counted, but I don,t want to
give them more information, he said.
- Census forms should be mailed out March 13, an El Paso
census spokeswoman said.
- SIGHTINGS HOMEPAGE
Site Served by TheHostPros