March 12, 2020

To Prevent Undercount, Asian American Organizations Begin Canvassing NYC for 2020 Census

FLUSHING, New York ​-- The Asian Pacific American Complete Count Committee (APA CCC), a coalition of 16 community-based organizations, joined with State  Assemblyman Ron Kim as well as a representative from State Senator Toby Stavisky’s  office to launch a campaign to mobilize Asian immigrant communities across New York  City to respond to the 2020 Census beginning on March 12 -- the first day of the self-response period. While Asians are the fastest growing racial or ethnic group in  New York City, they also have the highest poverty rates and among the lowest English proficiency rates of any group, placing them at heightened risk of being undercounted in 2020.


In recent months, the APA CCC, co-led by the MinKwon Center for Community Action and Chhaya CDC, has trained hundreds of staff, community leaders, and volunteers on outreach strategies to reach Asian New Yorkers to ensure a complete count in 2020 and to correct the severe undercount of 2010. The coalition was founded in December 2018 to advocate against the Trump administration’s attempt to add a citizenship question to the Census to suppress immigrants’ participation.


“I am proud to have worked with the Asian Pacific American Complete Count Committee and I commend the tireless efforts that the group has made in reaching out to immigrant communities throughout our city,” said Congresswoman Grace Meng  (D-Queens). ​“We must do everything possible to ensure a complete and accurate count of every person in our state, and this canvass is an important step towards accomplishing that goal. As I have said, it is vital for New York to receive its fair share  of resources and representation. An inaccurate count will have a decade’s worth of consequences because there are no do-overs with the census; a mistake is a 10-year mistake.”


John Park, Executive Director of the MinKwon Center, ​said, “For almost two years, we have been preparing our communities and messaging that the 2020 Census is coming. Starting today we have a new message: the Census is here. March 12 marks the first day households will begin receiving letters from the Census Bureau inviting  them to submit their 2020 Census. Although the COVID-19 pandemic will create additional challenges for outreach, it is also a wake-up call and reminder that in order for our communities to not be under-resourced during critical times like these, we need to ensure a full and accurate count. We urge everyone to submit their self-response to  the Census early so that enumerators do not have to knock on your door.”


Annetta Seecharran, Executive Director of Chhaya CDC​, said,​ ​“Chhaya is ready to ensure that every single member of our community is counted. Census will be integrated in everything we do, in all of our programs, and in all of our points of contact  with the community. Much is at stake for our collective future.”


“One-on-one conversations on the importance of participating in the 2020 Census are not only effective, they will help determine our level of representation in Washington, DC,” said ​Mariam Rauf, Census Outreach Manager at the Asian American Federation​. “However, during this public health crisis, we must reassure the public and have protective measures and practices in place to keep staff, volunteers and the people they contact healthy and safe. Because at the end of the day, the collection of  Census data also impacts how public health resources are allocated and ultimately how well prepared we will be for future crises.”


“2020 is an important year because of the 2020 Census. It is crucial that we have an accurate count in order to have a fair distribution of funding for our communities,” said Karen Zhou, Executive Director of Homecrest Community Services​. “Homecrest Community Services will participate in canvassing to outreach to the historically under-counted Asian immigrant communities. We will encourage everyone to self-respond once they have received the Census mailer. Also, we will be available to  help anyone with completing their Census form. All services will be free and  confidential. Please visit our centers for assistance.”


“Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) are the least likely to be familiar with the Census and the most likely to think that their responses may be used against them,” said ​Carlyn Cowen, Chief Policy and Public Affairs Officer at the Chinese-American Planning Council (CPC)​. “In 2010, New York City lost 7 billion dollars with only a 61.9% response rate, making the stakes for a 2020 complete count even higher. With anti-immigrant sentiment at the Federal level and COVID-19 fears close to home, we look forward to continuing this important work with our community members and partners like MinKwon and the APA Complete Count Committee to ensure every New Yorker is counted.”


Sudha Acharya, Executive Director of the South Asian Council for Social Services​, said, “As an organization which has always fought for the rights of the immigrant  community, SACSS is actively engaging people and educating them on Census 2020.  It is now time that we all make a collective effort to make sure that all our people are counted.”


"The Chinese Progressive Association is proud to join APACCC in making sure that our community gets counted,” said ​Mae Lee, Executive Director of the Chinese Progressive Association.​ “We have started outreaching in Chinatown and the Lower East Side. We will be bringing residents to pop-up centers or libraries where they can get help with completing the census.”


Sharon Levy, Vice President of Public Affairs at the YMCA of Greater New York​, said, “The YMCA of Greater New York is excited and proud to help get out the count in APA communities across our city. The 2020 Census is essential to strengthening communities and we need all trusted messengers to be a part of this critical moment.”


Yangchen Dolma, Lead Census Organizer at Adhikaar​, said, “To our community,  please know that no matter who you live with or where you live. No matter if you lease a room, a bed, or stay with someone you know. No matter if you have a contract for your house or your immigration status. The only thing that matters is, you get counted in the U.S. Census. It is your right and the information cannot be shared with housing enforcement, police or immigration. Make sure whoever reports for your household counts you and everyone who lives in the house including babies.”


“Women for Afghan Women is thrilled to work with our fellow Asian Pacific American (APA) led organizations to ensure that our communities are accurately counted,” said Roshni Ahmed, Coalition and Outreach Coordinator at Women for Afghan Women​. “A complete count is key to uplifting our immigrant communities and ensuring they receive the resources they deserve. APA organizations are best suited to be trusted voices in the community and convey the significance of the 2020 Census. As there was a huge undercount of the Afghan community in 2010, we are seeking to combat that and to provide support to the Afghan and South Asian communities, who will not receive language support through the Census Bureau language line to fill out their 2020 Census. Representation is critical, and that's what we are here to fight for!”


Christina Hu, Director of Civic Engagement at the Taiwanese American Citizens League (TACL)​, said, “We want to celebrate the wider diversity that makes up our APA community so we have been educating people that if they do not see their heritage listed as a pre-existing check box on the census form, they could check ‘Other Asian’ or ‘Other Pacific Islander’ boxes and write in their identity under the race question. Also if you identify with more than one heritage, the census form accepts multiple check boxes and write in as well!”


Vicky Kan, Census Manager at the YWCA of Queens, ​said, “A complete and accurate count of the Asian Pacific American Communities is critical in ensuring fair  representation and equitable access to public and private resources. The YWCA of Queens is proud to join the efforts of our partners to ensure that every single community member is counted accurately.”

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