Civil Rights Groups Get Out the Count with Asian Americans Amid COVID-19 Quarantine 


April 1, 2020 

Civil Rights Groups Get Out the Count with Asian Americans Amid COVID-19 Quarantine 

Asian Americans Advancing Justice Focuses for Census Day on April 1st 

Chicago, IL – Asian Americans Advancing Justice, an affiliation of five Asian American civil rights organizations, is pushing for an accurate count of the Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander communities amid the disruption to census activities caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The groups have turned their efforts to a more digital strategy, using PSAs, viral videos, and social media to entice individuals to fill out the 2020 Census. 

In the civil and human rights space, April 1st is not April Fool’s Day. It’s Census Day, a national day to remind everyone who hasn’t filled out their census to go online, fill out the form, or respond via phone to the decennial census. 

“For a community that includes undocumented immigrants and individuals in mixed-status households, we know some are still hesitant about completing the census so we are doing all we can to give them reassurance that we are here to support them through our census hotline, census pledge, and numerous resources on the website,” says Terry Ao Minnis, senior director of census and voting programs for Asian Americans Advancing Justice AAJC.  

Asian Americans Advancing Justice launched the website one year ago as the central hub for Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander individuals, and organizations in communities across the nation. The website has resources in 23 different languages from factsheets and PSAs to webinars and toolkits to help people understand the importance of the census and locally help our communities be counted fairly and accurately. 

The census is our opportunity as a community to be counted and seen, gain representative power, and get our fair share of resources,” says Aarti Kohli, executive director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus. “The Asian and Pacific Islander community is poised to be the largest immigrant group, but we are so much more than a political label. We are diverse in cultures, languages, histories, with unique challenges and needs. Participating in the census is one of the most important tools of democracy available to us to announce our growth, and diversity in this country.” 

The best time to fill out the census is now. COVID-19 has forced us indoors for our safety. And we can use our time productively. It only takes several minutes to fill out the census. As we all share concern for the health and safety of our family, friends, and neighbors and worry about the economic impact of this pandemic, we can do something now to contribute to our long-term economic and community prosperity by filling out the census.   

We understand the concern on everyone’s mind to remain healthy, and for that reason, it’s best to respond online, over the phone or by mail as soon as invitations are received,” says June Lim, demographic research project director for Asian Americans Advancing Justice – LA. “Simply follow the instructions in your preferred language to answer the nine questions. Amongst other languages, you are able to complete the census online or by phone in Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Tagalog, and Vietnamese. The Census Bureau has printed visual language guides available in 59 language options and video guides to completing the Census online in 63 languages.” 

The 2020 Census will determine many aspects of our lives, children, and neighbors for the next ten years, including voting representation. In some parts of the country, the outcome of the census data is the difference between a gain or loss of seats in Congress. Allocation of more than $1.5 trillion in annual federal funding determines where new schools are built, financial aid for college students, and where new roads and businesses are located. 

“The census is also about language justice,” says Mansi Kathuria, senior community organizer at Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Chicago. “Our communities should be able to access the crucial services and information they need regardless of the language they speak, and census data can help ensure that language assistance is provided at the polls, in schools, and across government agencies.» 

It is important that we have robust participation because each census response is a piece of a puzzle that, when completed, creates a picture of who we are as Americans, and what we need to know about the growing and changing needs of our community. From funding for college financial aid, hospitals, roads, and community centers to where to put the next schools or businesses, a full and accurate 2020 Census helps to respond to the specific needs of our families and neighbors. 

«Each of us has a role to play when it comes to the census. Every household matters. We need census data to advocate for the resources and representation our communities deserve. If we don’t respond now, we risk limiting this powerful advocacy tool and we could feel the impact over the next decade,» says Stephanie Cho, executive director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Atlanta.  

From Census Day 2020 and through the duration of census operations to count everyone in the country, Asian Americans Advancing Justice is committed to fighting for the inclusion of all Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander communities in the country we all call home. Ensuring that every adult and child is counted fairly and accurately is fundamental to the future prosperity of our diverse nation. 


Media Contacts: 

Michelle Boykins, Advancing Justice | AAJC, 202-296-2300 x0144,  

Sabrina Chin, Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus, (415) 848-7765, 

James Woo, Advancing Justice – Atlanta, 404-585-8446, 

Megan Singson, Advancing Justice – Chicago, 773-271-0899 x200, 

Jeffrey DeGuia, Advancing Justice – Los Angeles, (213) 977-7500 x259, 


Asian Americans Advancing Justice is a national affiliation of five leading organizations advocating for the civil and human rights of Asian Americans and other underserved communities to promote a fair and equitable society for all. The affiliation’s members are: Advancing Justice | AAJC (Washington, DC), Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus (San Francisco), Advancing Justice – Los Angeles, Advancing Justice – Atlanta, and Advancing Justice – Chicago.