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Asian Pacific Islander Groups Promote Census Participation

Nguoi-viet.com, Jami Farkas, Jami Farkas Posted: Dec 28, 2009

LOS ANGELES Seven Asian and Pacific Islander organizations across the state have come together to form the API Census Network in an effort to promote the API communitys participation in the 2010 Census.

Over the last decade, California has suffered a $2.1 billion loss in federal funding due to the undercount of API populations during the 2000 Census. An accurate 2010 Census can help correct errors in determining political districts and allocation of federal funds to state and local governments.

''We have to be creative about the strategies we use to outreach to everyone in the Asian and Pacific Islander community,'' said An L, the API Census Network statewide network manager. ''We need our communities to understand an accurate census means more federal funding, greater access to governmental services and more resources directed to our communities. Our goal is to have everyone fill out their census questionnaires in April 2010.''

One of the obstacles in conducting an accurate count of API populations is language proficiency. Nearly 36 percent of Asian Americans and 10 percent of Pacific Islanders have limited English proficiency. Further compounding the undercount is the immense cultural and linguistic diversity, making it challenging to educate this population about the importance to participate in the census., according to the Census Network.

As a part of its outreach and media campaign, the API Census Network will redistribute culturally specific materials in all major Asian languages produced by the Census Bureau. Additionally, the API Census Network recognizes specific communities in South East, South Asian and Pacific Islander sub-groups have disproportionately low rates of participation in the census.

In an effort to equalize this under-representation, the API Census Network is producing culturally specific, public service announcements in six languages Thai, Samoan, Khmer, Hindi, Lao and Tongan languages not targeted in the official Census 2010 media campaign. Independent filmmakers and community organizations are partnering to produce the public service announcements, which will begin airing in February 2010 on a variety of in-language subscription cable channels, radio programs, and Internet portals.

In January, the API Census Network plans to launch a census materials Web site for community-based organizations. Additionally each regional partner is responsible for regional census outreach trainings. These trainings will produce an educated base of local community organizations positioned to custom tailor Census 2010 messages for their communities, which will encourage higher numbers of individual participation among hard-to-count communities.

The API Census Network, coordinated by the Asian Pacific American Legal Center, covers California from Sacramento to San Diego and includes the Asian Law Caucus in the Bay Area, the Asian Law Alliance in the South Bay, the Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council in Los Angeles, Fresno Center for New Americans in the Central Valley, Orange County Asian Pacific Islander Community Alliance in Orange County, and Union of Pan Asian Communities in San Diego. In the upcoming months, the API Census Network will focus on outreach and education to the API community about the impact of participation in the 2010 Census, emphasizing on political representation, social services, and government funding.

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