Today, the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF) released findings from its six-month assessment of the Census Bureau’s programs and outreach to Asian Americans, which recommends that the Bureau must be more focused to ensure a full and accurate count of Asian Americans. A copy of the report can be downloaded here.
The Census Bureau generally has been responsive to the needs of Asian Americans, but AALDEF identified some problem areas that should be addressed. Key findings from AALDEF’s report include:
Insufficient Partnership Specialist staff in Chicago, Northern Virginia, and Detroit to meet community needs. In those regions, specific communities, such as Korean Americans and Bangladeshi Americans, may be overlooked. One community leader in Chicago noted that the staff does not resemble or understand the communities they are assigned to serve.
Complaints about partnership specialists in Silicon Valley and Chicago. Census Bureau outreach staff were unresponsive to inquiries or provided insufficient information about census operations. One community leader in Silicon Valley noted that some specialists were unprofessional and dismissive of community concerns.
More detailed assurances about confidentiality needed. Despite the Bureau’s numerous statements about the confidentiality of census data, community groups still want further assurances. They seek more details on the privacy protections and a legal opinion from the Attorney General that the USA Patriot Act does not compromise confidentiality. AALDEF is still awaiting responses to outstanding Freedom of Information Act requests.
Difficulty in obtaining translated educational materials. One group in Chicago requested materials in Vietnamese, but only received posters and fact sheets in English.
Translation errors in the Bureau’s Vietnamese-language materials. The Bureau has occasionally used the Vietnamese word for census as which refers to a communist government investigation. After community complaints, the Bureau recently fixed these errors in its online materials, but those corrections will not appear in the printed census forms.
Lack of transparency of paid media campaign. Almost no community groups were able to preview draft advertisements. Many groups are concerned that the final advertisements will not resonate with particular hard-to-count communities. AALDEF observed such problems with census advertisements in the 2000 Census.
Groups are unaware of important census programs, such as the Questionnaire Assistance Centers (QAC) and Be Counted sites. Many community leaders did not know how to sign up or did not understand that they had to be QACs or Be Counted sites in order to receive blank census forms.
AALDEF Democracy Program Director Glenn Magpantay said, “It is late, but not too late to fix these problems.” The report has been delivered to Census Bureau Director Robert Groves.
In evaluating the 2010 Census, AALDEF received valuable feedback from more than 100 Asian American community-based organizations in fifteen states on their experiences working with the Bureau’s Partnership Program, Language Assistance, and other operations. AALDEF will continue advocating for stronger enforcement of the census confidentiality provisions and seek a moratorium on immigration enforcement actions during the census enumeration period. In addition, beginning in late February, individuals will be able to report problems and potential violations of law to AALDEF through a multilingual telephone hotline and an online form to an attorney.
From February to March 2010, AALDEF attorneys will provide comprehensive legal trainings to community groups and social service agencies interested in learning more about the confidentiality protections of the census. AALDEF staff members will be available for speaking engagements as well as in-depth trainings and workshops. For more information, please contact AALDEF at 212-966-5932.
For more information:
Glenn D. Magpantay
Director, Democracy Program
212.966.5932 ext. 206