(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Today, Congressman Jamie Raskin (D-MD-08) joined Congresswoman Lori Trahan (D-MA-03) and more than 35 colleagues in urging the U.S. Census Bureau to include Khmer, Hmong, and Lao among the languages supported by the Internet Self-Response (ISR) and Census Questionnaire Assistance (CQA) options for the 2020 Census. The Members wrote to Steven Dillingham, Director of the U.S. Census Bureau, about the challenges faced by these communities and the importance of being properly represented in the upcoming Census.
The Members wrote: “Among the largest refugee populations to resettle in America in the past 50 years, these communities face unique barriers to being counted, such as poverty and limited English proficiency. A significant number of Cambodians, Hmong, and Laotian Americans and immigrants live in the United States. Offering these additional language support tools is a necessary step to ensure an accurate count of some of these hard to reach populations, which will bear upon the availability of vital public resources for local communities in the coming years.”
The Members continued: “These additions may require immediate planning revisions, but the significance of this matter merits such changes without unnecessary delay. Indeed, it is our belief that these populations should receive the breadth of support tools that will be available to speakers of any other language in the United States.”
“We commend Rep. Trahan for her leadership and commitment to making sure the voices of our Southeast Asian American communities are heard during next year’s critical census. Our families deserve their fair share of government resources and political representation, and it is our country’s duty to ensure an accurate count of all Americans, including immigrant and refugee communities," said Quyen Dinh, Executive Director of Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC).
"Asian Americans are such a diverse group of people therefore, it is imperative to have as much accurate data as possible. Working with the Cambodian community, we have been under-counted for a long time and with your support, this is an opportunity for us, the Burmese and Laotian community to be heard and counted," said Sovanna Pouv, Execitive Director, Cambodian Mutual Assistance Association of Lowell (CMAA)
The letter was signed by Representatives Gwen Moore, Gilbert R. Cisneros, Jr., TJ Cox , Ayanna Pressley, Harley Rouda, Jimmy Gomez, Ro Khanna, Bonnie Watson Coleman, Yvette D. Clarke, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Alan Lowenthal, Ilhan Omar, Mark Pocan, Betty McCollum, Anna G. Eshoo, Suzan DelBene, Katherine Clark, Scott H. Peters, Earl Blumenauer, Bill Pascrell, Jr., Donald S. Beyer Jr., James P. McGovern, Jan Schakowsky, Judy Chu, Raul M. Grijalva, Dean Phillips, Juan Vargas, Barbara Lee, Dina Titus, Jesús G. “Chuy” García, Zoe Lofgren, Grace Meng, Raja Krishnamoorthi, Rep. Jim Costa, Pramila Jayapal, Ted W. Lieu, and Ron Kind.
A signed version of the letter can be found here.