AALDEF Releases New Report on Census Bureau’s 2010 Outreach to Asian Americans
Today, the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF) released a new report evaluating the Census Bureau’s programs and outreach to Asian Americans in the 2010 Census and providing recommendations to improve census operations for 2020. A copy of the report can be downloaded here.
Overall, the 2010 Census appeared to be conducted more effectively than prior censuses. The Census Bureau built upon past operations and programs to educate traditionally undercounted communities about the importance of participating in the census. Such efforts included expanded partnership and language assistance programs and extensive in-language advertising campaigns.
While the Bureau generally did a good job, AALDEF identified some problem areas that should be addressed before the next census. Key recommendations from AALDEF’s report include:
Provide greater public assurances about confidentiality protections. Despite the Bureau’s numerous statements about the confidentiality of census data, community groups still needed further assurances. For example, a letter from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) confirming that the USA Patriot Act would not override the confidentiality provisions of the Census Act came very late in the process, and many people were not aware of DOJ’s statements;
Provide a mechanism for knowledgeable community partners to review translated materials before they are final. Community leaders complained that the word for “census” had been poorly translated in Vietnamese and Bangla;
Develop promotional materials about the Advance Letter and Be Counted forms to ensure that limited English proficient households are aware of the ways in which one could obtain language assistance in filling out the census form;
Incorporate a prepaid postcard into the Advance Letter so that recipients can mail in their requests for a translated form;
Provide centralized, concrete information about the steps that individuals should take if they do not receive a census form in the mail, and work with community-based organizations to better publicize language assistance programs;
Expand efforts to hire bilingual census staff who are well-trained and resemble the racial, ethnic, and linguistic makeup of various neighborhoods;
Institute an effective system for issuing outreach grants to census partners;
Establish community-based census task forces to work with CBOs.
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.
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