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Chicago Ethnic Media Question U.S. Census Officials

New America Media, Q&A//Video, Eunji Jang//Video: Paul Billingsley Posted: Nov 03, 2009

Editor's Note: On October 22, U.S. Census Bureau officials met with ethnic media in Chicago. More than 50 journalists from diverse ethnic media, including Latino, Russian, Filipino, Chinese, African-American and Muslim media, attended and asked questions that are relevant to the communities they serve.

New America Media contributor Eunji Jang compiled questions asked by ethnic media reporters, and summarized responses by the following U.S. Census Bureau officials: Associate Director for Decennial Census Arnold A. Jackson, Assistant to the Associate Director for Communications Burton Reist, and Director of the Chicago Regional Office of the U.S. Census Stanley D. Moore.

The U.S. Census Bureau Meets With Chicago's Ethnic Media from New America Media on Vimeo.

Q: Does the U.S. Census Bureau only hire U.S. citizens and English speakers?

The Census does hire [U.S.] citizens first. That is the way the process is set up. Also, there is some consideration in terms of language. The Census Bureau has the Spanish version of the test, which can be downloaded on the Web site. You do have to be able to pass the test and the security clearance in order to be hired for the Census Bureau. You are required to go through finger printing and [training].

Q: Considering foreclosed areas in downtown Chicago and the suburbs, how are you going to count multiple families in one household?

The Census is driven by household and not by family. Everybody in the household should be reported in the Census form. In an ad that we will be placing in January, we will make the point that everyone in the household, even people who moved in recently, should be included in the Census questionnaire.

We have questions that are new this time in an attempt to count everyone. We recognized that there are multiple families in a household and individuals in a temporary transitional situation, for example, people who are living with other family members because of the recession.

Paste alt hereCensus officials brief ethnic media.

Q: What is the U.S. Census Bureaus response to Sen. David Vitters proposal that Census respondents have to identify their citizenship status? What possibility do you see in that proposal being approved? That is the biggest concern in immigrant communities?

The Supreme Court has supported the notion or the idea that the Census counts everyone. The Constitution makes it very clear that the Census counts everybody living in the country. This has been supported by presidential opinion all the way up to the first President Bush. We do ask a citizenship question in the American resident survey. That question is not on the 2010 Census.

Q: When the Census asks respondents to identify their ethnicity/race, the question is not clear enough for Arab Americans or Asian Americans. Are they going to be categorized as homogeneous groups or differentiate within those categories?

The Census is totally a self-response exercise. Its kind of difficult for the Census to advise you on what your community should check. It is a matter of what you consider yourself to be, and anything you check, we retain. So if you check 'other Asians,' that information is retained, and you will see in our publication program that we have tallies of groups that are in those categories. It is really up to you and your community to check what you think you are. We tally whatever you check. You can also write in whatever.

Q: How comprehensive and inclusive are the campaigns for everybody to be counted?

The Census is advertising in 28 different languages. If you take partnership specialists as a group across the nation, they speak over 100 languages. We hire people to reach the community that they are part of. Thats true with our partnership program, and thats true with our advertising program. Everything that we do operationally and in terms of communication outreach, media partnership, there is gong to be a campaign emphasizing that everyone is included.

Paste alt hereCensus officials enlist ethnic media.

Q: Many Chinese people living in Chicago cant read and speak English. How are they going to be able to answer these questions?

The Census is producing questionnaires in Chinese. We are advertising in Chinese and the advertising includes instructions and information about how to get assistance. We are putting out advanced letters and messages in six languages: English, Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean and Russians.

More importantly, we are hiring partnership [specialists] within the community who can reach those communities to make sure people understand that theres assistance. We are producing language advisories in 58 different languages. The language program is the most diverse language program weve ever developed. We also launched the Web site (www.2010cenus.gov).

Related Articles:

U.S. Census Bureau Enlists Texas Ethnic Media

Census Bureau Recruits Floridas Ethnic Media

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