Shortened 2020 Census Timeline Will Shortchange Southeast Asian American Communities

September 30 field data collection deadline insufficient for complete count of communities of color

Washington, DC – SEARAC denounces the U.S. Census Bureau’s decision to rush the census in the midst of a worsening pandemic and with the most difficult work ahead. Announced Monday by Census Bureau Director Steve Dillingham, the new September 30, 2020 deadline for field data collection and for community members to self-respond to the census is an abandonment by this administration of its own previous request to extend the deadline to October 31, 2020.

With the national response rate hovering just over 60 percent, the new deadline leaves the Census Bureau staff with even less time to count the households who have not yet responded. Having already had to delay their field work to assist community members with responding, including mobile questionnaire assistance and door-to-door enumeration of households, due to coronavirus social distancing measures, the Census Bureau is shortchanging critical operations to count the remaining 40 percent of Americans. The communities who will pay the highest price for a rushed census are people of color, low-income people, and people experiencing homelessness – communities who are already historically harder to reach and undercounted in any given census year.
According to 2010 Census data, over 650,000 Southeast Asian Americans lived in harder-to-reach tracts, or areas with the lowest self-response rates in the country. An incomplete count of Southeast Asian American communities risks their fair share of over $1.5 trillion in federal funding and political representation over the next 10 years.
“The Census Bureau’s decision to shorten their timeline is counterproductive to the purpose of the decennial census – to get a full and accurate count of everyone. For too long, Southeast Asian American communities have lived first hand with inadequate funding and political representation as a result of incomplete census data,” said Quyen Dinh, executive director of SEARAC. “The 650,000 Southeast Asian Americans living in ‘hard-to-count’ tracts do not deserve to be shortchanged for another ten years. Our communities deserve our fair share of resources and representation for the next decade. We call on Congress to act to give this once-a-decade task the time it requires without cutting corners. SEARAC urges Congress to vote to extend the statutory deadlines for reporting apportionment and redistricting data and to allocate $400 million to address the challenges brought about by the coronavirus pandemic.”

ACTION ALERT: Take a few minutes to call or email your senator NOW

1. Call the US Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and ask to speak with your Senate member. You can also click here to find the direct lines to your senator.
2. Find your senator’s email here.
3. Find sample language below:
Hi, my name is _______ and I am your constituent from (City and State). I am calling/writing to ask you NOT to cut the 2020 Census short and to extend the reporting deadline so the Census Bureau has the time it needs to count everyone in our state. A rushed census results in an inaccurate representation of the country. We need a full and accurate count of our communities in (State). Thank you for your time.