On Wednesday, May 26 in Fairfax, Virginia and Washington, DC, the Asian American
Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF), joined by Census Director Robert
Groves and several Asian American community leaders, hosted two press
conferences to bring awareness to the Census Bureau’s Non-Response Follow-up
Phase, or door-to-door canvassing operations. Across the nation, census-takers
have been canvassing neighborhoods to follow up with households that did not
return their census forms by mail. This phase of the census, which began on May
1, is expected to last no later than early July.
As of April 28, the national participation response rate was 72%. The response
rate for the District of Columbia was 69%, trailing the national rate by 3%.
The State of Virginia’s response rate was 76%, surpassing the national rate by
4%. Although the response rate in Fairfax County matched the state rate, many
Census tracts in areas with large concentrations of Asian Americans, such as
Annandale ( 69%), Bailey’s Crossroads ( 64%), Centreville ( 72%), Fairfax (
77%), Falls Church ( 77%), and Seven Corners ( 63%), were unable to match or
surpass their 2000 response rates.
During both press conferences, Glenn D. Magpantay, AALDEF Democracy Program
Director, literally opened a free standing door and said, “When the census comes
to your home, open the door.” On the other side of the door were census
employees dressed as census-takers, carrying a white, government-issued
identification card and an official “U.S. Census Bureau” black shoulder bag.
Community leaders emphasized the importance of cooperating with census-takers,
the benefits of participation, and the confidentiality of census information.
Each speaker also tried to allay fears and address specific community concerns.
During the Fairfax, Virginia event, speakers included:
U.S. Census Bureau Director Robert GrovesProfessor Nguyen Ngoc Bich, National
Congress of Vietnamese AmericansDaniel Seokhwan Choi, Legal Aid Justice
CenterBen De Guzman, National Queer API AllianceHemi Kim, National Korean
American Service & Education ConsortiumBoard Member, Korean Community Service
Center of Greater Washington Ashley Nagaoka, Japanese American Citizens League
Shandon Phan, BPSOS
During the Washington, DC event, speakers included:Yam Chum Leung, Wah Luck
House Tenants’ AssociationRitu Kelotra, South Asian Bar Association of DCDerek
Mong, APIAVote!Van-Anh Nguyen, Asian Pacific American Legal Resource
CenterPhillip Ozaki, Japanese American Citizens League
Co-sponsors of the May 26th press conferences included APIAVote!, Asian American
LEAD, Asian Pacific American Bar Association of DC, Asian Pacific American Legal
Resource Center, BPSOS, Japanese American Citizens League, Korean Community
Service Center of Greater Washington, Legal Aid Justice Center, National Korean
American Service & Education Consortium, OCA, South Asian Americans Leading
Together, South Asian Bar Association of DC, H Mart, the Home Depot (NE
Washington DC), and the U.S. Census Bureau.