Exuding confidence, a team leader of the Bureau of Census Bay Area is confident that they ill meet their target of reaching out to all the housing units they sought to reach as weeks remain for the collection of Census 2020 data,
This optimism was aired by Census 2020 Bay Area team leader Sonny Le issued this statement in a Kapihan online video forum dubbed “Palista na sa Census 2020” sponsored by the Philippine American Press Club-USA in their effort to drum up support to push for participation of Filipinos in the U.S. in the current census data collection.
The forum co- hosted by PAPC Esther Misa Chavez and Wennie Conedy was also joined in by Census Partnership Specialist Teresa Guingona-Ferrer, Hercules CA Mayor Roland Esquivias, Daly City CA Vice Mayor Juslyn Manalo and Philippine Consul General in San Francisco Henry Bensurto Jr. as resource speakers..
“The Bureau has the capacity, latest technology, means and the money. But for us we need not be fixated with what the deadline is or what the political climate is. We should focus on the fact that we have a month left to get everyone counted. So regardless where you live or how you got to this country, you need to get counted. Get this word out. If we keep getting hung up or stuck with those in the White House, we won’t be getting anywhere,” Le believes.
Le reiterates that everyone needs to help each other be counted starting with immediate family members as well as encouraging relatives and friends to get them counted and not fear that the Bureau is running out of time in doing its job.
“Get them to go online at www.my2020census.gov to fill out the form and answer the nine simple basic questions that would only take minutes to answer to get counted. There is no point in belaboring the political climate and COVID-19. In fact we have a month to go and COVID-19 is not our concern now. We need to get to the finish line,” urged Le.
An additional challenge for census takers that Le mentioned, though, is that a lot of senior houses and housing development (residents) close their doors on them for fear of census takers having COVID-19.
The importance of every census cannot be overemphasized enough to communities like that of the Filipinos as it helps the federal government properly allocate funds in its budget for programs and public services in healthcare, emergency and disaster response and education for families, children and older adults.
Census results help determine the number of seats in Congress each state gets; public works infrastructure support and maintenance, including highway planning and construction, grants for public transit system, support for public servants like firefighters and for families in need and many more.
PAPC research of the most recent 2010 census Filipino American demographics data showed that 3.4 million Filipino-Americans ought to be counted had 19.7% of Asian Americans, including multiracial Americans, who identify as part Filipinos. This is an increase of 44.5% from 2000 count.
69% of these were born outside the United States while 77% are U.S. citizens. However, only 70% registered of these 3.4 million Fil-Ams resulting to 1.2 million not being counted and unregistered.
In the more recent 2018 data, the U.S. has the most overseas Filipinos, making them the second largest Asian American population in the country. Filipinos also have the largest Asian community in California with 1.5 million population which is 43% of total U.S. Filipino population. However, Fil-Ams were described by a writer as the population having a “residential invisibility compared with other Asian Americans.”
“Nearly every aspect of life in America is driven by data and the census is always quoted as basis for figures. In that sense, we cannot function without census data,” Le reminded. “Filipino, Vietnamese, Chinese and Korean communities have mixed status family members that live together some of which are citizens and some or not that, “because of the fear of government, we may not have them and ourselves counted.”
This prompted Le to reiterate the importance of everyone to know that there is no citizenship question and that nobody can have access to census information making mixed families safe from the law.
Le also underscores that anyone staying in a household for more than six months including boarders, temporarily staying relatives and even overstaying visitors who are in the basements or garages should be counted although some may seem as de facto undocumented
For her part, Census Bureau Partnership Specialists Teresa G. Ferrer assuaged residents with fears that their immigration or criminal status are not secured and would be compromised.
“Politically, there is mistrust on where this information is going to go to and how secure it really is. We underwent intensive training and have taken oath to keep all your information confidential. We can go to jail if we break that oath,” Ferrer assures. “We thank Mayor Esquivias and Vice Mayor Manalo who have been instrumental in being the trusted voice especially with seniors in saying that hey and the information they gave are safe giving us the inroads into that communities.”
They also assured residents who have been stranded in other countries during the pandemic that they can still be counted as their family members in the U.S. could still include them in the household count.
Hercules Mayor Roland Esquivias reported that Hercules had as population surge of 300 to 5000 in 1970 to 1980 there was a big change in population from 300 to 5000 and then again from 1980 to 1990 from 5,000 to 24,000.
“Upsurge came about in 1970s after the government gave couples incentives to multiply, new housing was built; and interstate 80 was built. Houses here were also more affordable. In 1980s, condominiums and town houses bloomed that accounted for the continuous surge,” Esquivias claims. “The influx of Filipinos to Hercules started in 1970s as they chose Hercules over Vallejo. Our demographics right now is 48 Asians and 35% of that are Filipinos.”
Esquivias continued that their response rate is 72.4% which is doing better than the national response rate of 64.6%, in California which is at 66.7% and the Contra Costa County which has a 75% response rate.
Daly City Vice Mayor Juslyn Manalo disclosed that the city with the biggest concentration of Filipinos in the U.S. has a population of 108,000 and it is the city with biggest population in San Mateo County with 32% having Filipino descent.
“Extended families as we also see now more college students or even former college students coming back and now are living with their parents due to the rise in rent rates. Also a growing family is a factor in the uptick in number of Filipinos in Daly City,” Manalo shared.
The Vice-Mayor also announced that they are holding census awareness caravans to go around their city like what Mayor Esquivias and other city officials are doing in Hercules to encourage more active participation from hesitant residents.
For the consulate, Consul -General of Sean Francisco, Henry Bensurto, Jr. admitted that that they are also interested in the latest figures because it is important for us to know the number of Filipinos we are supposed to serve so that they can, in turn, allot the needed (material and human) resources needed to serve or Kababayan.
“Based on the number and concentration of Filipinos in said areas, we can also propose the establishment of more consulates in places like Alaska and Seattle and to push for more consular outreach missions,” Bensurto asserts. “While the census does not ask citizenship questions,, we encourage immigrants, as well as next-generation Filipino-Americans to identify themselves as Filipinos during the census.”