Share Your Thoughts
1. Can I identify my race in the census?
Census 2020 collects data on race and ethnicity to capture the face of multi-ethnic America.
The Asian race category which was added to the census in 2000, offers an option to mark national origin as ‘Asian Indian’.
Asian refers to people originating from the Far East, Southeast Asia and the Indian subcontinent. An ‘other Asian’ option is available for subgroups from the Asian diaspora such as Pakistan and Cambodia.
The term ‘race’ was first introduced in the 1890 census which distinguished between East Asian subgroups – Chinese, Japanese and Indian (Asian) while the 1930 census actually had a color category for Hindus.
The race question and heritage is based upon self-identification which means you can choose more than one option to describe your racial identity.
2. Will I become a target for ethnic discrimination if I disclose my national origin as Asian Indian?
Some Asian Americans fear that marking their race or national origin on the census will lead to racial profiling and make them targets of ethnic discrimination.
But the census format only reflects how classifications of race and ethnicity have changed in society since the first census in1790.
Data collected on race informs federal policy decisions on civil rights, educational opportunities, promoting equal opportunities ,and assessing environmental risks and racial disparities in health care access, housing, income and poverty.
3. Is the census available in any Indian languages?
Paper census forms will only be available in English and Spanish and people can respond to census questions online or over the phone in 12 other languages.
However the Census Bureau will provide guides, glossaries, and a language identification card for ‘limited English speaking households’ for a total of 59 languages that include Hindi, Bengali, Gujarati, Nepali, Urdu, Telugu, Punjabi, Tamil, Malayalam and Marathi.
Since 1890 the Census has collected data on English-speaking ability and languages spoken at home to help determine bilingual election requirements under the Voting Rights Act.
4. Does my information remain confidential?
Census information is PRIVATE. The Census Bureau values the trust respondents place in them to be ‘caretakers’ of the data they collect. Information is used only to produce statistics of the US economy and population for federal programs.
Individuals are never identified.
Strict confidentiality laws prohibit the Census from sharing information it collects from respondents. Your answers cannot be used against you by any government agency or court. Your data is protected by Title 13 of the US Code.
5. Is this information distributed to ICE and other government agencies?
The Census Bureau does not share respondent information with immigration, law enforcement, tax collection agencies or any other organization. Security measures are in place to ensure that any census data released to federal agencies or organizations, are carefully reviewed to avoid disclosing individual information.
Surveys are mailed to addresses, rather than to specific individuals, to protect the confidentiality of participating households.
So, it is safe, especially for immigrant families with children – a group that is traditionally undercounted – to participate in the census.
6. Will I have to disclose my citizenship?
The Census is a count of everyone living in the US including citizens, non-citizens, undocumented immigrants, non-citizen legal residents and non-citizen long term visitors.
The Constitution “does not say citizen, it does not say legal resident, it says the census must count all persons in the 50 states and the primary constitutional purpose is apportionment.” says Terri Ann Lowenthal, a Census Expert.
The addition of the citizenship question made people wary about participating in the census for fear it would expose non-citizens to ICE interrogations. But the Supreme Court BLOCKED its inclusion in Census 2020 so immigrants (legal and undocumented), refugees, minorities and their families are not deterred from participating in the census, and the population count is more accurate.
What’s at stake? An accurate count ensures that each state gets the right number of congressional seats to represent its population and receives its share of $900 billion each year in federal funding to support communities, families and infrastructures.
Remember – you don’t count if you’re not counted!
7. I’m on an H1B visa and my spouse is on H4 visa. Will participation in the census affect our status?
The H1B visa is issued to foreign-born workers and skilled professionals who account for a significant proportion of IT occupations in states like California and Texas.
Though the census includes all foreign-born non-immigrants in its population count, it does not collect data on their legal status. The law ensures that personal information is not shared with any agency, including law enforcement. All data at the Census Bureau is kept confidential and protected from disclosure.
8. How many questions does the Census have?
Each household will receive a form that asks about basic demographic and housing information that covers:
- The number of people living or staying in your household as of April 1, 2020.
- If your home is owned with or without a mortgage, rented or occupied without rent.
- A phone number of someone living in your home.
- The name, sex, age, race and date of birth of each person living in your home.
- Whether anyone is of Hispanic, Latino or Spanish descent
- The relationship of each person to a central person in the home.
- Data collected on age for example, helps local officials plan program funding for health and assistance to seniors and children.
9. How do I respond to the Census?
You can respond online, by mail or by phone.
Between March and April 2020, Most households will receive an online invitation to participate in Census 2020. Areas less likely to respond online will receive a paper invitation. Reminders will be sent out and if people do not respond they will receive additional reminders and a paper questionnaire, or an in-person follow up.
For questions about the census call 301-763-INFO (4636) or 800-923-8282 or go to ask.census.gov
Meera Kymal is a contributing editor to India Currents
All Media Assets: U.S. Census Bureau