Sec. Locke and Rep. Schiff Urge Asian American and Pacific Islander Communities To Participate in the 2010 Census

Washington, DC – Census forms were mailed to every household across the nation in March, and tomorrow, Census Bureau workers will begin going door-to-door, visiting households that did not complete and mail in their Census forms. As Census Bureau workers begin knocking on doors, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke and Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) encourage members of Asian American and Pacific Islander communities to open their doors and feel comfortable participating in the 2010 Census.

“Many Asians and Pacific Islanders are reluctant to participate in this important count because of fear, distrust, and language and cultural barriers,” Rep. Schiff said. “These barriers resulted in the Asian Pacific American community being historically undercounted. However, full participation in the 2010 Census and a representative count are critically important to match our service needs, and preserve the health and wellbeing of our communities.”

The first step in ensuring delivery of resources is to identify communities with unique needs. For example, the APA community, when compared to the general population, is disproportionately affected by Hepatitis B. Without accurate Census data, it may be difficult to allocate the proper resources to combat the disease. According to the 2000 Census, Asian Pacific Americans (APA) make up approximately 25 percent of California’s 29th Congressional District, represented by Congressman Schiff.

“I urge members of the Asian and Pacific Islander community in Southern California to open your doors to Census Bureau employees and participate in the Census to ensure a complete count,” said Locke, Commerce’s first Chinese-American secretary. “Completing your Census form will empower your community and bring important benefits, services and much-needed resources.”

Conducted once every 10 years and mandated by the U.S. Constitution, Census counts help determine how more than $400 billion a year in federal funding will be allocated to communities across the nation for infrastructure and government services, including public schools, housing, health care, job training, and economic development. Each individual who goes uncounted will cost our local community more than $14,000 over 10 years in funding for these important public services.

Census figures are also used to shape federal, state, and local voting districts, which determine whether Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are fairly represented in Congress, state legislatures and local councils and boards. Additionally, Census data are used to enforce the federal Voting Rights Act, protecting Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders from discrimination.

“It is important to remember that Census answers are strictly confidential and protected by the strongest national privacy laws,” Locke said. “No other government agency – not immigration officials, law enforcement, housing authorities, or the courts – will have access to individual census answers. Similarly, census workers collecting your information are required to swear an oath to keep the collected information confidential. Violators who do not keep that confidentiality can be imprisoned and fined.”