North Carolina Asian Americans Together (NCAAT) is deeply concerned about the possible inclusion of the citizenship question on the 2020 Census.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruling today, allowing a lower court to determine if a citizenship question can be included on the census, could have far reaching implications for Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities and all communities of color for the next decade. While it is hopeful to see the highest court of the land question the Trump administration’s reasons for wanting to include the citizenship question, the court has also not shut the door on including the question altogether, leaving in doubt whether the citizenship question will be included on the 2020 Census.
“From the drawing of district maps to the allocation of federal funds, adding the citizenship question on the Census 2020 questionnaire could have a significant impact on AAPI communities in North Carolina,” said Chavi Koneru, Executive Director of NCAAT. “The harm from the question’s inclusion would be universal, with communities that are already at greater risk of being undercounted – including people of color, young children, and low-income rural and urban residents – suffering the most.”
The move to include the citizenship question has already spread fear among immigrant communities, both documented and undocumented, throughout the state and nation. According to a Census study in 2018, AAPIs are the most concerned among all racial and ethnic groups about the information from Census being used against them. This concern is not without precedence — it has been confirmed that the 1940 Census was used to identify and forcibly relocate Japanese Americans into internment camps. In the current political environment, immigrants are being targeted by policies ranging from the Muslim Ban to mass deportations, detentions, and even de-naturalizations. Worst fears are realized when federal agents invade homes, schools, and places of worship; and families are torn apart both at the U.S. border and in the heart of communities. This fear will discourage many from participating in Census 2020 all together, leading to an inaccurate count of the AAPI population in the state.
AAPI communities are already less likely than other racial and ethnic groups to fill out the Census form, with only 55% likely to do so, according to the Census study. That’s compared to over 64% for other racial and ethnic groups.
Yet, North Carolina’s AAPI population is the fasting growing population in the state among all racial groups. This population has grown to more than 303,000 in 2017 from 209,400 in 2010, a growth of 44.7%, compared to a growth of 7.7% of the state’s total population.
An inaccurate count of the population will have far reaching effects on democratic representation in government and allocation of more than $800 billion for federal programs in areas of healthcare, education, housing, transportation and other infrastructure for our communities statewide. The impact of an inaccurate count would be devastating for not only AAPI communities in North Carolina, but for all communities of color and undercounted demographics, including children and older adults.
New evidence also revealed that Dr. Thomas Hofeller, a longtime Republican redistricting strategist, wrote a memo in 2015 outlining how including the citizenship question in
Census 2020 would help in redistricting efforts aimed at benefiting Non-Hispanic whites at the expense of immigrant voters, particularly those from communities of color.
As an organization dedicated to uplifting the visibility and fair representation of the AAPI population in North Carolina, NCAAT opposes the addition of the citizenship question, which has already spread fear throughout immigrant communities and could affect access to resources for AAPI communities in the state for the next decade. Though much of the damage that has already been done, NCAAT’s work in coalition with partners from other undercounted communities is more important than ever to address the impact of a citizenship question on the census and raise awareness about the importance of a complete count.
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North Carolina Asian Americans Together (NCAAT) is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization committed to supporting equity and justice for all by fostering community among AAPIs and allies in North Carolina through civic engagement, leadership development, grassroots mobilization and political participation. Learn more at www.ncaatogether.org