FILL OUT THE CENSUS
Just a reminder to everyone: Everyone must fill out the Census 2000 form, regardless of whether or not you are a U.S. citizen, including resident aliens, those on a student visas, and even illegal aliens.

Note: The Census Bureau is prohibited By Law from sharing any information in the census form with any law enforcement agency, the INS, the FBI or the IRS.

See please fill out your form!

Census 2000 and Arab Americans: Questions and Answers

This month every household in America has been mailed the 2000 census questionnaire. One person is asked to serve as the "census taker" for the entire household. Census takers are asked to mail back the completed questionnaire by April 1, 2000. The census is taken once every ten years to measure the population and is used for reapportionment of the U.S. Congress and to allocate federal funds to states and localities.

How do I fill out the form?

A "short form" of the census is sent to most (five out of six) households. This form takes about 15 minutes to complete and asks basic questions about age, sex, marital status, race and housing. Federal laws on apportionment and voting rights require that data on race and Hispanic origin be collected on the short form. At present, federal statistical guidelines consider persons from the Middle East and North Africa as "White or Caucasian" for purposes of race classification. Ethnic background, however, for all persons in America is measured on the "long form".

What if I select "Other Race" on the short from?

Some Arab Americans prefer to use the "Other Race" option on the census short form and write in their ethnic background. While the respondent is asked to choose the race or races that best identifies them, write-in responses are procedurally re-coded according to the definitions set by federal classification guidelines (see above).

What is the long form?

A long form of the census is sent to the remaining one in six households-a random sample of 17% of the population. The long form takes about 45 minutes to fill out. It asks the same basic population questions in addition to ones about the socio- economic characteristics of the households such as income, occupation, education level, date of immigration, ancestry, languages spoken at home, etc. Unlike the short forms that will be available at selected distribution sites, the long form is a controlled sample and is only sent in the mail.

REGARDLESS OF WHAT CENSUS FORM YOUR HOUSEHOLD GETS, IT IS IMPORTANT TO FILL IT OUT. A FULL COUNT IS CRITICAL FOR THE COMMUNITIES WHERE WE LIVE. IF YOU HAVE QUESTIONS AND NEED HELP, YOU MAY CALL THE NUMBER ON THE FORM OR WAIT FOR A FOLLOWUP VISIT BY A CENSUS WORKER.

How are Arab Americans counted?

It is the "ancestry" question that will count the Arab American and other ethnic or national origin populations. It is question #10 on the long form and it seeks a self-identified response. You may identify with one or more nationalities: e.g. Lebanese, Syrian, Palestinian, Chaldean, Egyptian, etc.

Two important facts about the ancestry question. Religious affiliations by law are not tabulated. Always self-identify with a national origin (answers like Shiite, Maronite, Druze, Copt or Muslim are not counted. )

Also, multiple ancestries are counted but only the first two will be coded. For example if you identify as Italian-Irish-Lebanese, only the "Italian" and "Irish" are coded and not the Lebanese. If any part of your family is from an Arabic speaking country, remember to list it first on question #10.

Note: All ancestry responses from Arabic-speaking countries will be tabulated separately but counted for reporting purposes as an aggregate (much like Hispanics). We will know the exact break down of how many Jordanians, Lebanese, Iraqis etc. are in the U.S. and also, to emphasize our fullest ethnic strength, the total Arab American population. Data on ancestry and other long socio-economic questions for the entire population can then be validly inferred from the 17% sample.

WHAT DOES THE CENSUS MEAN TO ARAB AMERICANS?

The census is the only accurate source to count the population of Arab descent currently living in the United States. People of Arab descent form an important part of the American ethnic family. Our contributions to American society grow each year but our numbers have for too long been invisible.

The last count taken in 1990 identified less than one million persons of Arabic-speaking ancestry -- but we believe our community to be more than twice that size. Now Arab Americans have a chance to get a more accurate count and learn about our community as it grows.

Where do most Arab Americans live? What kinds of jobs we have? What levels of education do we have? What languages do we speak at home? And where do we have basic needs to be met?

This is the kind of valuable information about ourselves we will learn from the 2000 census. Now here's what you need to know about the questionnaire itself.

SOME IMPORTANT FACTS ABOUT THE CENSUS

The Census counts everyone currently living in the U.S. regardless of citizenship status. Census responses are by law kept absolutely confidential. No agency -- neither the Immigration services, the FBI, the IRS, the courts, the military nor the welfare system -- has access to your questionnaire. You are not even asked for your social security number. The only reason your name and address are requested is to make certain that no household is missed.

If you have any problems understanding the census form do not mail it back. Wait for a census worker to contact you. There is a language guide in Arabic to explain the form and the terms used. In some areas persons fluent in Arabic will be available to escort census workers who go door-to-door to help overcome the language barrier.


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editor@cafearabica.com