On Friday, U.S. Rep. Solomon P. Ortiz assured constituents of the 27th District of Texas, which he represents, that workers with the Census Bureau would be visiting colonias to count the thousands of people that live in the rural neighborhoods in South Texas.

"We've received calls from local and state elected officials, as well as constituents of the 27th District of Texas, and have heard their concerns regarding residents of colonias not receiving their census forms in the mail," Ortiz said. "I would like to clear any misinformation by explaining how the process will work, while ensuring those I represent that our efforts in getting everyone counted in this country are serious."

Ortiz said he was informed by Congressional Liaisons with the Census Bureau that people living in colonias, rural neighborhoods throughout the country, would soon receive a visit from a Census Taker who would ask households throughout South Texas basic questions such as the names of the people living in that household, their dates of birth, their ethnicity, their ages, their genders, and the number of people that live in the household.

South Texas is home to hundreds of colonias that stretch along the U.S.-Mexico border from El Paso to Brownsville.

A Census Taker will identify themselves with an official badge which will display their names, and a Census Taker will never ask to go inside a home.

"We've been in close contact with the Census Bureau during the past few weeks, and I am told that Census Takers will begin to visits areas in May to count those living in colonias as well as those people who did not return their Census Form via postal mail," Ortiz said. "It is important that we participate in the Census and be counted, because the numbers that we derive from the Census will set formulas for years to come. These formulas will determine federal funding for the next 10 years.

Ortiz said Census Takers will visit a household in a colonia up to seven times at different times and during different days to ensure people living in colonias are counted.

"After the seventh time, if no one is there, the Census Takers will ask their supervisors to grant them permission to make contact with a neighbor or landlord and count the people living in the household that has been unresponsive to them," Ortiz said. "The Census Bureau is doing everything they can to make this process as simple as possible for our people who live in colonias, and I commend them for their efforts."

As of Friday afternoon, the Census participation rate for the 27th District of Texas was as follows: San Patricio County, 59 percent; Nueces County, 57 percent; Kleberg County, 54 percent; Kenedy County, 30 percent; Willacy County, 45 percent; and Cameron County, 50 percent.

Ortiz said if constituents living in the 27th District of Texas have any questions about the Census 2010, they should visit the Census Bureau's Web site, http://2010.census.gov/2010census/.