This month marks the 45th anniversary of the Southeast Asian American community’s refugee experience, when the first wave of SEAAs were resettled in the United States following the fall of Saigon in April 1975, the Khmer Rouge genocide, and bombing campaign in Laos.
By participating in the 2020 Census, Southeast Asian American communities can honor their history of resilience and bring visibility to the needs of future generations. For example, during the 2010 Census, young children ages 0-4 had the highest net undercount rate and highest omissions rate of any age group. This resulted in 36 states losing out on $560 million each year for a number of programs, including Medicaid, Children’s Health Insurance Program, foster care, adoption assistance, and childcare.
Mandated by the US constitution, the census counts every single person living in the country. The data are critical in deciding how to distribute $1.504 trillion in federal funding for education, health, transportation, infrastructure, and many other programs and services for all families and communities. Data also greatly impact federal representation in Congress, which is key to ensuring that all voices are heard, and all people are seen.
Last month, the US Census Bureau mailed forms to every household in the United States with instructions on how to fill out the 2020 Census online. Respondents can also participate via phone, with translation support available in 13 languages, including Vietnamese. Census instructions are available in 59 languages, including Hmong, Khmer, Laotian, and Vietnamese.
If you have lingering questions, like whether to count your extended family living in your house (yes), or a relative who is visiting for a few weeks from another country (no), or your pregnant spouse’s unborn child (no), visit Southeast Asia Resource Action Center’s website at www.searac.org/SEAAsCount to read frequently asked questions in five factsheets translated in Khmer, Lao, Hmong, Vietnamese, and Iu Mien.
To learn more information on how the census will impact your community, visit www.searac.org/SEAAsCount.
SEARAC is a national civil rights organization that empowers Cambodian, Laotian, and Vietnamese American communities to create a socially just and equitable society. As representatives of the largest refugee community ever resettled in the United States, SEARAC stands together with other refugee communities, communities of color, and social justice movements in pursuit of social equity. Find out more at www.searac.org
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Diverse Elders Coalition.