Last week the U.S. Census Bureau released detailed data from the 2010 census for New York State. The Bureau reported an all time high of 1,579,494 Asian Americans in New York State; and 1,038,388 in New York City. The Bureau also found that Asian Americans were the fastest growing minority group, with a growth rate of 35.9% in New York State.
However, the numbers might have been higher had there not been so many problems in the Census Bureau’s operations and outreach to Asian Americans. The 2010 census reported unusual minimal growth in Queens County, with a population increase of less than 2,000 people. AALDEF monitored the Census Bureau’s outreach efforts to Asian Americans in Queens and reported a number of problems to the Census Director last April:
Mistranslations of Census Materials Confused Respondents. TheKorean Be Counted Questionnaire form erroneously translated “county” as “nation.” On Vietnamese forms, the translation of “census” carried the connotation of a “communist government investigation.”
Poorly Staffed Telephone Questionnaire Assistance (TQA) Centers. Census respondents were supposed to be able to receive assistance through the multilingual TQA hotlines. However, Korean and Vietnamese TQA operators were unable to answer basic questions about the Census. One Korean operator even had to transfer the call to his supervisor who only spoke English.
Difficulty in Accessing Census Forms. AALDEF received complaints from individuals in Flushing, Richmond Hill, and Jackson Heights, in Queens, NY that they did not receive their census forms in the mail. Community-based organizations complained that obtaining blank forms was cumbersome.
Poorly Managed Local Census Offices. In Richmond Hill, a hard-working Indo-Caribbean recruitment assistant for census takers was reassigned to another location in a white neighborhood for complaining about delays in delivering blank census forms.
Curtailment in Providing Assistance with Census Forms. Community organizations and service providers typically assist their clients with completing many government forms and other legal documents. However, census officials discouraged them from helping their clients to complete census forms.
More detailed assurances about confidentiality needed. Despite the Census Bureau’s numerous statements about the confidentiality of census data, community groups did not receive adequate assurances. They sought, but never received, a legal opinion from the Attorney General that the USA Patriot Act did not compromise confidentiality.
Glenn D. Magpantay, AALDEF Democracy Program Director, said, “Accurate census data is needed to ensure that New York receives its fair share of federal and state funding for social services and resources. Any undercount needs to be corrected.”