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Stand and Be Counted

Nguoi-viet.com, Q&A, Jennifer Saunders Posted: Apr 01, 2009

The official date of Census 2010 doesnt come for more than a year, but dont be surprised to soon see a census worker walking your neighborhood.

The Department of Commerce already is gearing up for the count of Americans, and soon will send out thousands of people, called ''enumerators,'' to develop an accurate list of households in the United States. Its a huge undertaking, one that starts years before the actual April 1, 2010, census.

For some Vietnamese Americans, this might be the first census in which theyve participated, so we asked Nhi Ho, the partnership team leader at the Los Angeles Regional Census Center, to explain just what census officials want to find out from us and how they gather information.

Q: Will the people who go into the neighborhoods heavily populated by Vietnamese Americans (such as in parts of Orange and Santa Clara counties in California, or Harris County in Texas) in this phase and then in subsequent phases next year be able to speak Vietnamese? And when will that occur?

A: We are reaching out to the Vietnamese community because we want to count every single person in the community regardless of the status of immigration or who they are, what they are. We just want to know where they are so that the United States population count is more accurate.

The Census 2010 will only bring benefits to the community. Each year, there is more than $300 billion from the federal government allocated to the local community projects based on census data. So, for the next 10 years, there will be $3 trillion affected (by) the funding that will go to local government and community organizations via federal grants. The Vietnamese community needs to be counted fully and accurately. The Bureau of Census is paying attention to the Vietnamese population.

In our Los Angeles region, there are two Vietnamese bilingual partnership specialists hired to help reach out to the community. The bureau selected me as a Vietnamese bilingual to be the partnership team leader, emphasizing the importance of having Vietnamese bilingual staff. In all areas with a major concentration of Vietnamese population, there are attempts from the bureau to recruit more Vietnamese bilingual staff, including many enumerators who will go door to door. In Orange County, even though we already have exceeded the goal of recruiting, we still are conducting testing for Vietnamese applicants. We will try to send Vietnamese-speaking enumerators to work in the hard-to-count Census tracts where concentrate more Vietnamese residents. I believe in other regions, other local census offices such as in Houston, Harris County, San Jose, etc., there are similar efforts to reach out to the Vietnamese population.

Q: What jobs are available to Vietnamese Americans in the census?

A: For this address canvassing project and for next years phase when Census 2010 comes, we will continue to employ as many Vietnamese bilingual enumerators as needed in the areas with higher Vietnamese population. Right now, we are about to start the address canvassing phase, which will last for several months, and then next year, after April, when we need the enumerators to come to those addresses that did not response to our census questionnaires that were sent to the homes.

Q: What is your mission?

A: We want to let the Vietnamese community know that we are counting the people only. That is our mission. We do not care if they are documented or undocumented immigrants. We count everyone who is in the United States by April 1, 2010. We do not ask the questions regarding their immigrant status. We do not share any information with anyone, including any federal government agencies. All census employees are sworn under oath that they will not release information collected from census data or census activities to anyone. The census employees are held by U.S. Title 13 about confidentiality. Anyone from the census bureau, even after they left the bureau, they are not allowed to talk about any individual information. Violations can get them up to $250,000.00 in fines or go to prison up to five years. Our questionnaires are simple only seven subjects and will not ask for their social security number, or their immigration status in the United States. We just need to know the number of people living in the household, their age, gender, sex, race and ethnicity. No other federal agencies including the IRS or the FBI no one can obtain the information from the individuals responses to census questionnaires. It is strictly confidential, and it will be kept confidential for 72 years.

Q: Is there anything Vietnamese Americans should fear?

A: Our partnership specialists team, which is the outreach arm to the bureau of census, has been fully trained to reach out to the community to tell them about what census is about. There is nothing for the Vietnamese to be afraid of. We are not doing census like their government back home does. We are not tracking people or investigating people. We are just simply counting people to get the accurate population numbers. The more accurate count of Vietnamese population will help the community to gain power and money. It is power because it will be a factor in redistricting politically. It is money because it will bring federal government funds to local projects. At the time of economic hardship as we all are facing today, federal money is very important to our community. A good political representation because of the redistricting with correct figures of Vietnamese population will gain more power influence to the community.

Q: Will there will be a Vietnamese help line?

A: There are five languages for Census 2010 questionnaires in addition to English. They are: Spanish, Vietnamese, Chinese, Korean and Russian. However, the questionnaires will be sent to households in English first; they will have to call to request the Vietnamese version. There will be Vietnamese questionnaires available at the language assistance centers and ''be counted'' sites, and there will be a Vietnamese language help line.

Q: Will materials you pass out at the door be printed in Vietnamese for these areas with a high concentration of Vietnamese residents?

A: We will soon have Vietnamese language in our outreach materials. We will do an advertising campaign later this year in many major Vietnamese media outlets. As I said, we hired two Vietnamese partnership specialists working in Orange County, and they have been very actively reaching out to the community to help (foster) better understanding about the census purpose and its process. The partnership specialists will pass out these Vietnamese materials to community groups or at community events. We will also be working with elected officials and local community leaders to conduct town hall meetings on the census. Surely, Census 2010 will be present in many Vietnamese community events.

What is the census?

The census is a count of everyone living in the United States every 10 years. The census is mandated by the U.S. Constitution, and the next one is in April 2010. Participation in the census is required by law, and census questionnaires take less than 10 minutes to complete.

Federal law protects the personal information you share during the census. The government uses census data to distribute congressional seats to states, to make decisions about what community services to provide, and to distribute $300 billion in federal funds to local, state and tribal governments each year.

2010 Census timeline

Spring 2009: Census employees go door-to-door to update address lists nationwide.

Fall 2009: Recruitment begins for census takers needed for peak workload in 2010.

FebruaryMarch 2010: Census questionnaires are mailed or delivered to households.

April 1, 2010: Census Day.

AprilJuly 2010: Census takers visit households that did not return a questionnaire by mail.

December 2010: By law, a population counts is delivered to the president for apportionment.

March 2011: By law, the Census Bureau completes delivery of redistricting data to states.

Why fill out the census form?

Every household in the country will receive a questionnaire in 2010. You or someone in your household must respond to the census questionnaire.

Census data affects funding for your community, your communitys representation in Congress and your community leaders planning decisions.

The census questionnaire takes only a few minutes to answer and return by mail.

Responses are protected by law (Title 13, U.S. Code, Section 9). All census employees have taken an oath to protect confidentiality and are subject to a jail term, a fine or both for disclosing any information that could identify a respondent or household.

The information you provide is combined with responses provided by your neighbors and other households across the country to provide summary statistical data that are used by various local, state and federal agencies.

2010 Census is different

The Census Bureau has changed the way it conducts the national count.

In the past, most households received a short-form questionnaire, while one household in six received a long form that contained additional questions and provided more detailed socioeconomic information about the population.

The 2010 Census will be a short-form only census and will count all residents living in the United States as well as ask for name, sex, age, date of birth, race, ethnicity, relationship and housing tenure taking just minutes to complete.

The more detailed socioeconomic information is now collected through the American Community Survey. The survey provides current data about your community every year, rather than once every 10 years. It is sent to a small percentage of the population on a rotating basis throughout the decade. No household will receive the survey more often than once every five years.

Will the 2010 Census questionnaire be available in Vietnamese?

Yes. The 2010 Census questionnaire will be available in English, Vietnamese, Spanish, Russian, simplified Chinese and Korean.

2010 Census Jobs

While most recruiting for 2009 field operations has ended, limited recruiting continues in select areas. To learn about other census jobs in your area, please visit the job Web site (http://2010.census.gov/2010censusjobs/).

While some temporary census jobs will be available over the next several months, most hiring will occur in the spring of 2010. Efforts to recruit for peak census operations will resume in the fall of 2009.

Source: www.census.gov

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