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Asian Americans “Open a Door” to the Census in Jackson Heights PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF)   
Tuesday, 11 May 2010 06:06

Jackson Heights, New York- The Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF), joined by several Asian American community leaders, hosted a press conference to bring awareness to the Census Bureau’s Non-Response Follow-up Phase, or door-to-door canvassing operations.

Across the nation, census-takers have started canvassing neighborhoods to follow up with households that did not return their census forms by mail.  This phase of the census, which began on May 1, is expected to last no later than early July.

As of Wednesday, April 28, the national mail-back response rate was 72%.  The response rate for New York State was 67%, trailing the national rate by 5%.  Many Census tracts in neighborhoods with large concentrations of Asian Americans, such as Chinatown (65%), Flushing (61%), Jackson Heights (66%), Richmond Hill (47%), and Sunset Park (52%), surpassed their 2000 response rates.

During the press conference, Glenn D. Magpantay, AALDEF Democracy Program Director, literally opened a free standing door and said, “When the census comes to your home, open the door.”  On the other side of the door were census employees dressed as census-takers, carrying a white, government-issued identification card and an official “U.S. Census Bureau” black shoulder bag.

Howard Shih, Census Programs Director of the Asian American Federation, said, "We would like to remind our community that we are just over halfway there.  With only 60% of New York City residents mailing back their forms, there is still a lot of work ahead to reassure the rest of our neighbors that the Census is safe, easy, and important for our future."

S.J. Jung, President of MinKwon Center for Community Action, said, "Accurate census numbers can become the foundation of advocacy by community groups seeking their fair share.  It is not too late to make a difference for your community.  Speak honestly with representatives from the U.S. Census Bureau!"

Community leaders emphasized the importance of cooperating with census-takers, the benefits of participation, and the confidentiality of census information.  Each speaker also tried to allay fears and address specific community concerns.  Speakers included:

Afreen Alam, Program Director, Chhaya CDC
S.J. Jung, President, MinKwon Center for Community Action
Richard Lee, Advocacy Associate, Asian Americans for Equality
Michelle Liu, Director, Chinese-American Planning Council (Queens Branch)
Howard Shih, Census Programs Director, Asian American Federation
Luna Ranjit, Executive Director, Adhikaar
Gurpal Singh, Seva

Co-sponsors of the May 10th press conference included Adhikaar, Asian American Federation, Asian Americans for Equality, Chhaya CDC, Chinese-American Planning Council, MinKwon Center for Community Action, Seva, the Home Depot (Flushing), and the U.S. Census Bureau.


The Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF), founded in 1974, is a national organization that protects and promotes the civil rights of Asian Americans.  By combining litigation, advocacy, education, and organizing, AALDEF works with Asian American communities across the country to secure human rights for all.


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