Posted by Sofiya Volobuyeva on October 22, 2019 in Blog

Last week, over 1,100 people convened in Detroit to work towards realizing the “New American Dreams” of immigrants and refugees. Almost 200 speakers, including the Arab American Institute’s Suher Adi, spoke at the National Partnership for New Americans’ 12th National Immigrant Integration Conference (NIIC). This is the largest conference on immigration in the U.S., convening policymakers, academics, corporate and community leaders, researchers, faith and labor leaders, and funders from all over the country. The NIIC centered around issue-based 12 tracks, including Census 2020, language access, healthcare, and women’s leadership.

Adi, AAI’s #YallaCountMeIn Policy and Campaign Manager, brought her Census expertise to the “Get Ready for Get-Out-the-Count” panel. It was one of four panels in the Census 2020: We Count track. Joining her were Elizabeth Alex (CASA), Vivian Chang (Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance), John Dobard (Advancement Project), Esperanza Guevara (Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights), and Adrian Reyna (United We Dream). The panel focused on field strategies for reaching Hard-to-Count (HTC) communities, including immigrants and refugees. In her presentation, Adi focused on Arab Americans.

To frame her talk, Adi cited statistics about Arab Americans and the Census. With 32% of Arab Americans unsure of their Census participation, there is a vital need for persuasive messaging and information dissemination. Trusted messengers such as family members, teachers, and healthcare providers can inform community members about the benefits of the Census and convenient ways to fill it out. Effective messaging will be inclusive of diverse Arab communities and will also emphasize the anonymity of the Census. Adi emphasized the need to make 2020 Census efforts easy and feasible to be folded into local organizations. That is why the YallaCountMeIn campaign has been producing materials to serve the needs of smaller-staffed partner organizations and serves as a place to get easy-to-use resources for various events the organizations are putting on.

The panelists all shared their Get-Out-the-Count messaging strategies. Adi used that opportunity to raise particularities about Arab Americans that vary on the local level. Community members are the most knowledgeable about their communities. They must consider the best ways to reach people with regard to their own platforms. At the end, Adi shared some of the work that AAI’s campaign has done, including MENA category advocacy, YallaCountMeIn, and online informational materials. The panel closed out with questions to each panelist about their campaigns. Adi discussed the disinformation work that YallaCountMeIn has produced and ways partner organizations have used the materials the campaign has created.

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