Asian American Lawmakers Press Census Bureau on Language Support
Members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) want to ensure that the 2020 Census Language Support Program will have adequate language support service for Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders (NHPI), Native Americans, and Alaskan Natives. The current program supports an online questionnaire and telephonic Census Questionnaire Assistance in 12 non-English languages but lacks support for any NHPI languages. The members say that this will decrease response rates and increase the amount of missing and inaccurate responses, resulting in a misleading portrait of these communities which will have serious consequences for federal, state, and local funding, access to services, and civil rights protections. CAPAC Chair Judy Chu (D-CA) led the Caucus in a letter to Jennifer Kim, Assistant Division Chief at the Census Bureau, and recommended the agency invest the resources needed to make the paper version of the 2020 Census questionnaire available in the same languages in which it is available online. They also recommended the Bureau conducts robust outreach to limited-English-speaking households in areas with inadequate broadband connectivity. “This lack of access to a translated paper questionnaire will disproportionately impact low-income, limited-English proficient (LEP) communities who may not be able to fill out an online census form due to lack of internet connectivity at home,” the members wrote. According to the Census Bureau’s 2017 Population Estimates, there are over 22 million Asian Americans, nearly 1.6 million Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders, and nearly 6.8 million Alaska Natives and American Indians living in the U.S. Asian Americans and NHPI also have among the highest levels of limited-English proficiency of any racial group. More here.