The 2020 Census will close on October 31, 2020. Have you submitted your census responses yet? If you need assistance, please be sure to watch our videos (in English and Punjabi) on how to fill out the census.
This year, the United States government will conduct a census, or national headcount, as it has done every ten years since 1790. The goal of the census is to count every person in the country, regardless of age or citizenship status, where they live. Sikh Americans are a traditionally hard-to-count population, but an accurate assessment of where Sikhs live–regardless of their immigration or citizenship status–is essential to ensuring that our community is appropriately resourced and accurately represented in our democracy.
The Sikh Coalition is working to increase Sikh American participation in the census, ensure that resources are available in Punjabi, and serve as an information resource to Sikh communities across the nation. Our first step in this engagement is sharing information about how the census form is simple, safe, and essential.
The census asks how many people live in your home and whether it is rented or owned; it then asks about the age, sex, race, and ethnicity of each person in the home, and the relationship of each person in the home to the homeowner or renter. Representatives of the U.S. Census Bureau will never ask for social security numbers, information about citizenship, or political views; they will also never solicit fees or donations for their work. It is safe for U.S. citizens, U.S. permanent residents, recent immigrants, and undocumented persons to fill out the census; immigration authorities do not have access to census data, and the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June 2019 that the Trump Administration would not be allowed to include a question about citizenship on the census. You can and should report suspicious interactions with people claiming to be from the Census Bureau–including anyone who asks about you or your family’s immigration status–to email@example.com.
Beginning in March of 2020, the U.S. Census Bureau sent letters to the vast majority of U.S. households asking them to fill out their census forms. If responses are not returned via mail, completed over the phone, or submitted online by the summer, Census Bureau workers will go door-to-door across the country to ask the questions in person. The Sikh Coalition recommends that community members submit their census information online, because it is easy to do.
- $ billion allocated per year based on census count
- k Sikhs should answer the 2020 Census
The government uses information from the census to allocate more than $600 billion worth of resources per year to communities across the country. This means that census data directly influences public funding for things like schools, roads, and parks; businesses also look at population data, which comes from the census, to decide where to locate and invest. And finally, the census count also determines representation in our democracy, including how local legislative maps are drawn, how many members of Congress your state gets, and how many electoral college votes each state casts in presidential elections. The more people who are counted, the greater voice their community has in our democracy.
Our work to encourage census participation is the first step in a larger effort to increase Sikh American civic engagement, along with our work to “Get Out The Vote” in advance of the 2020 presidential election.
One final note: The current and past census forms specifically ask only about the ethnicity of each person in a household, rather than their religion. For example, the Jewish or Muslim communities are not identified on the census. It is important that your ethnicity is appropriately accounted for based on how you identify. The inclusion of a self-created category (i.e. filling in a different response) could ultimately lead to undercounting different ethnicities nationwide. Futher, we recognize that some are not comfortable sharing religious information with the federal government due to instances of discrimination and government surveillance. The Sikh Coalition always advocates for Sikhs to be accurately counted as a religious group in many different ways, but the 2020 Census will not accomplish this goal. Still, we will always work to ensure that our articles of faith and rights remain protected under the First Amendment.
How You Can Help
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Sikh Coalition is no longer looking for community members to table at gurdwaras across the country to help Sikh Americans fill out the census in a safe and supportive environment. Instead, please circulate our videos (in English and Punjabi) on how to fill out the census.
Additionally, you can seek employment with the U.S. Census Bureau if you speak Punjabi. Again, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information–and be sure to let us know if you or someone in your sangat is already volunteering or working with the Census Bureau so that we can amplify the good work!