Tag Archives: Census Bureau

What will the 2020 Census Ask You?

Here is a list of every question on the 2020 Census questionnaires

We’ve had years of worry about the confidentiality of people’s census responses, what purposes those responses would be used for, plus the possibility – now abandoned – of being asked about citizenship status. With the 2020 census now officially under way, here’s a look at what those census questionnaires will actually ask us.

There are nine questions on the primary census form (https://tinyurl.com/2020censusquestionnaire). The first asks how many people live in the household. For each of those people, there’s a of seven-question second form. Here are all the questions, starting with the nine asked of every household:

  • “How many people were living or staying in this house, apartment, or mobile home on April 1, 2020?”
  • “Were there any additional people staying here on April 1 that you did not include in Question 1?”

This question offers five possible responses, in the form of checkboxes, to describe such additional people as children, relatives, live-in babysitters, guests or, in the fifth check-box, “no additional people.”

  • “Is this house, apartment or mobile home –”

Here, the check-boxes offer four ways to complete the sentence, ranging from “owned by a resident via a mortgage or a loan,” to owned outright, rented or occupied rent-free.

  • “What is your telephone number?”

The questionnaire states that you would only be contacted “if needed for official Census Bureau business.”

  • The fifth question is specifically directed to the person who pays the rent or owns the residence, and it asks for that person’s first and last names and middle initial. From then on, this person is referred to as “Person 1.”
  • “What is Person 1’s sex?”

There are two choices given: male and female.

  • Question 7 asks for Person 1’s age and date of birth.
  • Question 8 asks if Person 1 is of “Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish origin?”

The question offers five check-boxes for responding. The first is “No.” The second is Mexican, Mexican-American or Chicano. The third is Puerto Rican, the fourth is Cuban and the fifth “Yes, another Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish origin.” This option is followed by space to write in a more specific description, such as “Salvadoran, Dominican, Colombian, Guatemalan, Spaniard, Ecuadorian, etc.”

The instructions for this question say, “for this census, Hispanic origins are not races,” and ask respondents, after answering this question, to continue to the next and final question.

  • “What is Person 1’s race?”

Here, respondents have 15 check-boxes to choose from, along with five places where they can write in a specific origin.

For instance, after the first check-box, for “white,” respondents are asked to write whether they are, “for example, German, Irish, English, Italian, Lebanese, Egyptian, etc.”

The next check-box, for “Black of African Am.” also has a write-in line. Its examples of possible responses are: “African American, Jamaican, Haitian, Nigerian, Somali, etc.”

The third check box is for American Indian or Alaska Native and asks respondents here to print the name of “enrolled or principle tribe(s)” and gives as examples “Navajo Nation, Blackfeet Tribe, Mayan, Aztec, Native Village of Barrow Inupiat Traditional  Government, Nome Eskimo community, etc.”

After this are 11 more check boxes, for “Chinese, Filipino, Asian Indian, Other Asian,  Vietnamese, Korean, Japanese, Native Hawaiian, Samoan, Chamorro, Other Pacific Islander.”

Beneath is a space in which to “Print, for example, Pakistani, Cambodian, Hmong, etc.” if you’ve checked the box for “Other Asian.” Or, if you’ve checked the “Other Pacific Islander” box, to specify “for example, Tongan, Fijian, Marshallese, etc.”

Finally, there’s one more check box, for “Some other race,” with space to write in a specific “race or origin.”

For those households with more than one person, there is a separate, seven-question form for each additional household member. Most of these questions are the same ones Person 1 will have answered, described above, starting with name.

But Question 2, instead of asking if anyone else lives in the household, inquires if “Person 2” usually lives or stays somewhere else. There are nine possible responses offered here, from “no” to eight “yes” options: at college, in the military, for work, in a nursing home, with a relative, at a second or seasonal residence, incarcerated or “for another reason.”

Question 3 asks how Person 2 is related to Person 1. It offers 16 possibilities, from spouse or partner, with separate boxes for same-sex spouses or partners, to a variety of family relationships, such as son/daughter, adopted son/daughter, stepson/daughter, sibling, parent, grandchild, parent- son- or daughter-in-law, “other relative,” roommate, foster child or “other non-relative.”

The remaining four questions are the same as the last four posed to Person 1 about gender, age/birthday, Hispanic/Latino/Spanish origin and ethnicity.

Governments and community organizations are spending hundreds of millions of dollars to collect this information this year, and trillions of tax dollars will be distributed over the next decade based on what this data reveals about how many people live where and what their needs are.

And that’s not all – census data determines how many members of congress each state gets and how many electoral college votes. Businesses rely on census data, too, to decide where to invest. The list goes on and on.

Census data that identifies you personally is protected by the government’s most strict confidentiality rules — it’s kept sealed for 72 years.


Capturing the Face of Multi-Ethnic America

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.

In 2018, USCIS reported that Indians accounted for 73.9 percent of total H1B visa holders in the USA and that  93% of H4 dependent spouses were from India.

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


10 Minutes Will Impact 10 Years of Your Life

“Your ten minutes of participation will impact ten years of your life,” said Nick Kuwada, the Office of the Census, Santa Clara County in his keynote address.

At a Civic Forum organized on Jan 23, 2020 co-sponsored by India Currents and Ding Ding TV in Santa Clara, officers from the Office of the Census impressed upon the audience the importance of participation. The event was supported by Ethnic Media Services, VietPress USA, Mail Business Newspaper (the Wall Street Journal of South Korea), Lion Television Channel 16.10, North California, GlinkNews, Tan Phuong Media, Voice of Chinese America, and design2market.

The Keynote address was followed by a panel discussion on the importance of counting children in Census 2020. Historically children are undercounted, specially children under 5. The discussion was lead by Vandana Kumar, Publisher, India Currents magazine with a panel that included Monica Tong, Office of the Census and Andrew Ratermann, School board trustee for the Santa Clara Unified School District.

Important takeaways:

*The Census every 10 years takes a headcount of all people in the United States. ALL people have to be counted, not just old or young, rich or poor, English speakers or non-English speakers. Ten minutes of your time will impact ten years of your life.

*The Census has a record of getting 76% of the people to respond. If, in Census 2020, we record below this number then we will lose billions of dollars of funding. Additionally we are in danger of losing a Congressional seat. The US Census finds some counties, like Santa Clara County, hard to count.

*You need to take the Census because it is the law.

*You need to take the Census to get your fair share of funds. You pay taxes and you should get federal funding. Take your tax money back to make your schools and other institutions better.

*You need to take the Census because there are voices in Washington that are vested in not counting you and taking your money. They want you to be invisible.

*Where you are on April 1, 2020 is where funds earmarked for you will go. If you are from Cupertino but are a student at and live in Davis then you will count as part of Davis and funds for you will go there. Because people move around the census takes a snapshot count.

*Birth records and immigration records do not answer where the people are located.

Logistics to keep in mind:

The mailers for Census 2020 will be mailed out on March 1. Look out for the forms and when people knock on your door as census workers make sure you are talking to census workers and not fraudsters. If they ask for your Social Security Number don’t give them this information. Real census workers will not ask for such information.

It is the first digital census and can be taken online. Pincodes will be sent to by mail that identify your address. You can write the pincode instead of the address.

If you don’t have laptops or phones to fill the census form digitally you can fill it at any of the 120 earmarked locations like community house, library, school etc.

Ritu Marwah is an a senior writer with India Currents and an avid student of all things political.

Withdraw Citizenship Question from 2020 Census

The U.S. Census Bureau is seeking public comments on its 2020 Census plan, which includes a citizenship question on the census form all households must answer.  Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross directed the bureau to add the untested question in March, after misleading stakeholders and Congress about the Justice Department’s need for citizenship data from every person.

In our view (insert name of news outlet), collecting citizenship status data from every resident for the first time in 70 years will jeopardize any serious effort to achieve a complete count.   We join dozens of ethnic media outlets across the country in demanding that the Department of Commerce withdraw the question. We will also urge our audiences to use the public comments period to explain why the decision to add the question is so misguided.

Ethnic news media are acutely aware of the high stakes our audiences have in a successful census. The 2020 Census ranks as one of the top civil rights issues of our time, underpinning how federal dollars are allocated to our communities and who represents us at almost every level of government. It tells us who we are and who we are becoming as a society.  The 2020 Census is the one and only act of civic engagement in which literally every person counts – equally.

But all that hinges on people’s willingness to trust the government to rigorously adhere to the strict legal protections for census confidentiality and to ensure an equitable distribution of benefits to historically underserved communities of color. As media leaders serving  many of the hardest to reach populations in the U.S., we know that public trust in government has eroded sharply, replaced by pervasive fear in the face of anti-immigrant policies and racist rhetoric.

We have a long history of informing, engaging and advocating on behalf of our communities. But when people are paralyzed by fear or alienated by anger and distrust, not even trusted intermediaries will be able to convince them to participate in the 2020 Census.  In this climate, adding the citizenship question sends exactly the wrong message and puts the 2020 Census at risk of an historic undercount.

Here is a sampling of comments from ethnic media leaders:

“It’s a cynical ploy to diminish the influence of people of color.” -Yawu Miller, Editor, South Bay Banner (African American)

“Recent immigration policies have created a climate where immigrants, both legal as well as those who are undocumented, live in fear. Self-identifying as non-citizens in today’s times is a risky proposition and those who are not citizens will not participate. It’s as simple as that.”  -Darek Barcikowski, White Eagle News (Polish American)

“Definitely adding the citizenship question will hurt participation. Even legal immigrants now have fear.  Those who are not citizens will evade the questionnaire.” -Myong Sool Chang, Editor, Korean Boston (Korean American)

“People in the Turkish community don’t want to share their status with anyone outside their own relatives. The question feels threatening to all immigrants, regardless of their status.” -Orhan Akkurt, Publisher, Zamen Anerika  (Turkish American)

“The citizenship question will suppress the count, which defeats the very purpose of the Census.” -Vandana Kumar, India Currents

The biggest undercount will be of 0 to 5 year olds, which means we won’t be able to distinguish the identities of the next generation.”  “The government should reconsider adding the question on citizenship which is rather personal and does nothing in terms of generating the head count except create fear in the minds of an already scared immigrant community.  -Fernando Andres Torres, freelance reporter and editor