Census Uses Comic Book to Reach Immigrants

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Ze BrasilThe Census is pulling out all the stops to get people to return the 2010 census.  On top of television ads and radio spots, mass mailings and internet ads, add comic books to their arsenal to get people to return their forms.

The comic book, written in Portuguese, targets the Massachusetts Brazilian community and assures them that the firm is indeed confidential and that by filling out the form they benefit by receiving more funds for items like schools.

But not everyone is happy about the tactic.  Fausto da Rocha, cofounder of the Brazilian Immigrant Center in Allston, called the comic book “disgusting.”  Going on to further explain that, “I work to boycott the census. We want the government to work to legalize first and count second.”

Vera Dias-Freitas, a long time activist in Framingham, disagrees saying nearly all Brazilians she knows have agreed to support the population count.  She likes the idea of the comic book, even though she at first thought it was aimed at children.

Brazilian members of the census staff came up with the idea for the publication and contacted award-winning cartoonist Daniel Nocêra, a native of Brazil who lives in Boston.

“Zé Brasil & Tião Mineiro,’’ the two stars of his comic, are everyman characters, The kid about needing an extra form for their many apartment mates

Distribution is massive. Any places where Brazilians already get Portuguese-language publications, they have provided free copies of the comic book.

There has been calls to boycott the census after calls and promises of immigration reform have gone unanswered by the new administration.

“Politicians broke their promise to us,’’ said da Rocha, who supports the boycott. “We don’t have access to higher education, we don’t have access to driver’s licenses. Why do you want us to be counted if we don’t have any of these kind of rights?’’

The cartoon characters were created in 2005 by Nocêra and have appeared in Brazilian newspapers around the country