Counting the undocumented in L.A.

Elvira Sosa left Mexico for the United States more than 30 years ago, but last year was the first time she’d been counted as part of the U.S. Census.

Sosa was among thousands of illegal immigrants in Los Angeles who filled out a census form last year, and city officials said the response, especially among Latinos, might have saved the area money and congressional representation.

The increased count was purposeful: A Census Bureau outreach program urged undocumented workers to fill out the census and assured them that nothing on the form could be used against them.

The program included Spanish call centers that would field questions about the census, plus billboards, bus advertisements and fliers with information. Celebrities publicized the census, too.

The response: The 2010 census showed that the numbers of Latinos living in this country increased by 43%, from 35 million to more than 50 million, during the past 10 years.

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