As the only statewide Asian American organization advocating for representation and visibility of the pan-Asian community in North Carolina, NCAAT is deeply concerned about the undercount of the AAPIs in the 2020 census, particularly due to fear remaining from the failed effort to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census form. (There will no longer be a citizenship question on Census 2020.) NCAAT opposed the inclusion of this citizenship question, which would’ve jeopardize the accuracy of the census in all communities, further endanger immigrant communities, and deprive critically needed federal funds at the state and municipal levels — an outcome that the nation will have to live with for the next 10 years.
NCAAT believes a full, fair and accurate census — and the collection of useful, objective data about our nation’s people, housing, economy and communities — is vitally important. Not only is a nationwide census required by the Constitution, it is integral to our democracy, ensuring that district lines and political power are fairly drawn and allocated. The federal government uses census-derived data to direct at least $800 billion annually in federal assistance to states, localities and families. The data also guides important community decisions affecting schools, housing, health care services, business investment and much more. Simply put, a fair and accurate census is essential for all basic functions of our society.
A fair and accurate census is even more important for AAPIs as it is the most comprehensive set of socioeconomic data points on Asian American communities, particularly for subgroups (e.g. Chinese, Vietnamese, Asian Indian, and Filipino). Often viewed as homogenous, these communities include more than several dozen detailed racial and ethnic groups that can differ dramatically across key social and economic indicators. The North Carolina AAPI community is incredibly diverse, with over 20 Asian ethnicities and nationalities who speak over 40 languages.
The largest ethnic group among AAPIs in the state is the Asian Indian community, whose population has more than doubled in the past decade and now makes up 28 percent of the Asian American population. The second-largest is Chinese Americans at 15 percent, followed by Vietnamese and Filipino communities at 12 percent each of the N.C. AAPI population. In addition, North Carolina has become home to significant ethnic minority communities from Southeast Asia, many of whom have come to the state as refugees. They include the Montagnards from mountain regions of Vietnam, including members of Jrai, K’ho, Rhade and other tribes. North Carolina also has one of the largest Hmong communities with 10,800 Hmong residents in 2010 who came to the state from Southeast Asia. Understanding the diversity, size and needs of these unique communities requires an accurate count in the 2020 census.
When the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities are undercounted, political boundaries may not accurately represent reality. Undercounting results in Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders being denied a full voice in policy decision-making. As a result, their communities’ different needs may not be represented or prioritized according to their real share of the population. It would also impact how federal funding is allocated to states and localities. Many programs that impact Asian American and Pacific Islander communities are based in whole or in part on census-derived data.
NCAAT, along with other state partners, is working on strategies to get us a complete count in N.C.