April 1st, 2010 is officially Census Day. On this day, the US Census Bureau attempts to count everyone in the United States in order to determine political representation, identify community needs, collect demographic information and allocate government funding. Census data is also used when planning for vital services such as senior programs, hospitals, schools, employment training centers and much more. Despite the importance of each person completing Census forms, many in our community remain uncounted. In fact, during the last Census in 2000 the Asian Pacific Islander population was greatly under-counted which resulted in an estimated $2.1 billion loss in federal funding in California.
Asian and Pacific Islander (API) families will feel the effects of the 2010 Census for the next decade. Everyone living in the United States is required by the U.S. Constitution to be counted every 10 years, regardless of citizenship or residency status. This month, every household will receive a census form in the mail that by law must be completed and mailed back by April 1, 2010.
Barriers to Counting Asian Americans
Communities of color are disproportionately under-counted in the census. API communities can be under-counted for many reasons:
- Lower education levels or limited English proficiency affect the ability of many individuals to understand the census
- General misunderstanding of the importance of census participation
- Fears that the census may be used by immigration or law enforcement officials to deport an individual or family member or to disqualify someone for social welfare programs.
Barriers to Counting Filipino Americans
Some of the main issues facing Filipino newcomers that can contribute to a Census undercount are:
- Fear of complicating or revealing their immigration status (per the Migration Policy Institute, there are more than 1 mil. undocumented Filipinos in the U.S.)
- Fear of complicating their employment or financial stability, especially in an economic crisis
- Negative prior experiences in the Philippines with government-run programs.
It’s important to acknowledge and address those fears directly, but none of the above should be a barrier to completing the Census questionnaire. Here are some facts that respected community leaders can help deliver between now and April 1, 2010:
- Census answers cannot be used against you in any way. Individual census responses are confidential and protected by the strongest national privacy laws on the books.
- The census form does not ask about citizenship status.
- No other government agency – not immigration officials, law enforcement, housing authorities, or the courts – can get any person’s individual census answers for the next 72 years.
- Every census worker swears an oath to keep information confidential – and anyone who violates that confidentiality can be imprisoned for up to five years and fined $250,000.
Download this fact sheet for FAQs about the API community and Census 2010 called 10 Minutes, 10 Questions to help improve our community and click here for more information about how APIs benefit from being counted.
Make yourself count.
More information is available from the Asian and Pacific Islander 2010 Census Network (API Count) at www.apicount.com, the Asian American Justice Center at www.fillinourfuture.org and from the Leadership Conference Education Fund at www.civilrights.org/census.
Link to tagalog materials- http://2010.census.gov/2010census/language/tagalog.php
Fact Sheet #1: Important Things You Should Know About the Census (taglog)- http://www.aaldef.org/docs/Census_Tagalog.pdf
To view a sample Tagalog questionnaire, please click here.