On Monday, May 3 in Boston, Massachusetts, the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF), joined by several Asian American community leaders, hosted a multilingual press conference to announce the beginning of the Census Bureau’s Non-Response Follow-up Phase, or door-to-door canvassing operations.
Across the nation, census-takers have started 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 through early July.
As of Wednesday, April 28, the national mail-back response rate was 72%. The response rate for the state of Massachusetts was 73%, surpassing the national rate by 1%. In cities with large concentrations of Asian Americans, such as Boston (61%), Lowell (63%), Malden (63%), and Quincy (68%), the response rates trailed behind the statewide rate. In Lowell, many tracts were unable to match their 2000 rates, with the lowest rate at 47%. On the other hand, most of the Census tracts that make up Boston Chinatown surpassed their 2000 response rates, with the highest rate at 73%.
During the press conference, 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.
Speaking in Cantonese, Khmer, Mandarin, and Vietnamese, 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. Speakers included:
Anh Nguyen, Senior Paralegal, Greater Boston Legal Services
Chealyn Tim, Youth Director, Asian American Civic Association
Headmaster Bak Fun Wong, Josiah Quincy Upper School
Henry Yee, Co-Director, Chinatown Residents Association
Tony Yee, Board Director, Chinatown Main Street
Alex Zhang, Community Planner and Organizer, Asian Community Development Corporation
Co-sponsors of the May 3rd press conference included the Asian American Civic Association, Asian Community Development Corporation, Chinatown Main Street, Chinatown Residents Association, Chinese Progressive Association, Greater Boston Legal Services (Asian Outreach Unit), the Home Depot (South Bay/Boston), and the U.S. Census Bureau.