The 2010 Census is just around the corner. As in the past, the importance of participating and being counted in the Census cannot be emphasized enough. Asbarez’s Juliette Davtian met up with Anahit Tovmasyan of the Census to discuss critical information.
Anahit Tovmasyan is a Partnership Specialist in the Burbank Region specializing in outreach to the Armenian community. Anahit is born and raised in Armenia. She is fluent in both Eastern Armenian and Western Armenian.
Juliette Davtian: Explain what exactly is the 2010 Census and where and how it will be conducted?
Anahit Tovmasyan: The census is a count of everyone residing in the United States–in all 50 states. All residents of the country must participate in the Census. This includes people of all ages, races, ethnic groups, citizens and non-citizens.
The first Census was conducted in 1790 and since then it has been carried out every ten years. The 2010 Census will be the 23d census in the US. The purpose of Census is to count people. All residents of United States must be counted and the Census Bureau must submit state population totals to the U.S. President by December 31, 2010.
Census questionnaires will be mailed or delivered to every household in the United States in March 2010. The questions ask you to provide information that is accurate for your household as of April 1, 2010. A second form will be mailed by April 15th to households that do not respond to first mail outs. If by May first questionnaires are not received in complete households that have not responded will be visited or called by a Census worker.
The 2010 Census questionnaires will have the least number of questions: only 10 which will be very simple questions to answer. After answering all questions the questionnaires must be returned in the envelope provided.
J.D.: Why is participating in the Census important?
A.T.: It is very important for every resident of each city and state and, more specifically every Armenian, to be counted. Census data will form the future of our community and shape our voice in Congress.
Census data will directly affect how more than $300 billion per year in federal and state funding is allocated to communities for neighborhood improvements, public health, education, transportation and much more. Spending just a few minutes to fill out your census form will help ensure our community gets its fair share of federal and state funding.
By recording the number of Armenians, we have better opportunities for applying to government grants. Funds will be available for us as non-profit organizations in several programs for our youth and elderly.
Mandated by the U.S. Constitution, the census is also used to apportion seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and to redistrict state legislatures. Furthermore, Census data will affect our community’s representation in state and local government. Census data are used to define legislature districts, school district assignment areas and other important functional areas of government.
Finally, the Census is like a snapshot that helps define who we are as a nation. Data about changes in our community are crucial to many planning decisions, such as where to provide services for the elderly, where to build new roads and schools, or where to locate job training centers. The also Census provides temporary job opportunities.
J.D.: How confidential is the collected information, will it be shared with government agencies such as the FBI, IRS, or immigration?
A.T.: No. The Census Bureau will not release or share information that will identify respondents or their households for 72 years and when it will do so it will be only for research purposes.
Although the Census is part of the Federal Government, it is against the law for every Census Bureau worker to share any individual or household information with any other Federal Bureau whether it is the immigration, welfare, IRS or law enforcement offices. Every Census Bureau worker takes an oath for life to protect the confidentiality of census responses and any violation will result in a jail term and a fine of up to $250,000.
J.D.: What will the 2010 Census questionnaire look like? Will it differ from previous ones?
A.T.: Yes! Previously, most households received a short-form questionnaire, while one household in six received a long form that contained additional questions and provided more detailed socioeconomic information about the population.
However, the 2010 Census will be a short-form only asking ten simple questions of each person – name, relationship, gender, age and date of birth, race and whether the respondent owns or rents his or her home. The more detailed socioeconomic information will be collected annually through the American Community Survey. This questionnaire is sent to a small percentage of the population on a rotating basis throughout the decade. No household will receive the survey more often than once every five years.
J.D.: Where can our community turn to for questions on the Census and this process?
A.T.: If interested in helping, getting involved and raising awareness in the Armenian community you can contact me, Anahit Tovmasyan, at the U.S. Census Bureau via e-mail (email@example.com) or telephone (818) 510-5494.