URGENT: Send Comments on Info Collection on 2020 Census by Aug. 7

Posted on July 31, 2018 in Action Alerts


The Census Bureau has come under fire for several issues that can negatively impact an accurate count on the upcoming 2020 census. The Census Bureau must ensure an accurate count which is why we have advocated for adding a Middle Eastern North African ethnic category to the questionnaire for over three years. Decades of research done by the Bureau itself has showed that adding a MENA category by way of a new combined question format would be beneficial in providing a more accurate population count. All this data and research were disregarded under the context that the Bureau did not want to make any changes to the Census, without explicit guidance from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) but they now want to add a citizenship question.

The Census Bureau is facing at least six lawsuits around the addition of this citizenship question. The census is constitutionally required to count all people, regardless of citizenship status, in order to appropriate funding and congressional seats for all those that reside here. The addition of the citizenship question is of concern because of the likelihood of leading to undercounting of communities like ours. No research was done before deciding to add the question and many staff working in the Census Bureau have stated that it is going to be very costly and will likely lead to an undercount of immigrant communities. Further, their actions on the MENA category, combined question format and the citizenship question results in politicization of the census.

We cannot allow the Census Bureau to disregard members of immigrant communities and must demand them to make changes that lead to a more accurate count. Join us in voicing the community’s concerns around the census. The deadline to submit comments is August 7th.

FRN Comment Letter Template to submit using this link.

Ms. Jennifer Jessup
Departmental Paperwork Clearance Officer Department of Commerce
Room 6616
14th and Constitution Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20230

Submitted via http://www.regulations.gov (Docket # USBC-2018-0005)

RE: Comments on Proposed Information Collection on 2020 Census

Dear Ms. Jessup,

I am writing to provide comments on the 2020 Census as a member of the Arab American community. I would like to begin by asking that you not add the citizenship question and reconsider adding a MENA: Middle Eastern North African category via the combined question format.

The citizenship question is of concern to me because of the possibility of leading to an undercount of various individuals across the country. The Census, as I am sure you know, is meant to count all those who reside in the United States, regardless of citizenship status. As it currently stands, the Arab American community is severely undercounted. The federal statistics estimate that there are 1.96 million Arab Americans living in the United States, a gross underestimate of the community. Research done by AAI suggests that a more accurate estimate is around 3.66 million Arab Americans.[1] I understand that the intention of the Census Bureau is to provide as accurate data as possible about Americans, however that intention is being compromised by the politicization of the census through including this question on citizenship. I worry that fewer people will feel comfortable filling out the census and providing more accurate information to the federal government, something that has always been an issue in immigrant communities. Compromising this data keeps communities away from getting access to services that they need from the government. An undercount can hinder the Arab American community, among others for a minimum of ten years.

In order to combat undercounting to the best of your abilities and ensure the collection of useful data, I think it would be best to reinstate the combined question category which would account for more granular and accurate data across all race and ethnic groups. Within this combined question format, a MENA category would be needed to ensure accuracy on this upcoming census. The Arab American community, one of many communities that are impacted by the MENA category have long suffered from an undercount. This has led to a severe undercounting of members of our community and a lack of data to assess community needs. It was research done by your very own OBM that showed the benefits of adding the category in efforts to get more accurate census data. The omission of this category will lead to another ten years of inaccurate data that has translated to lack of access to basic services and rights ranging from language assistance at polling places to greater access to health information and research. I hope that providing this comment can lead to positive changes: (1) not adding the citizenship question, (2) adding the MENA category, (3) using a combined question format. These changes reinforce the commitment of the Bureau to gather accurate data on all individuals residing in the United States in 2020.


[Your Name]

[1] National Demographic Profile 2014. Arab American Institute Foundation. National Demographic Profile 2014. 2014. https://d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/aai/pages/9843/attachments/original/1460668240/National_Demographic_Profile_2014.pdf?1460668240.