An Open Letter from Asian American and Pacific Islander American Academic Faculty, Researchers, and Educators to Express Concern about Census Citizenship Question

July 17, 2018

The Census Bureau has invited public comment on the addition of an explicit question about citizenship on the Census 2020 questionnaire.  Please take a moment to read this comment submission from Asian and Pacific Islander American professors, researchers and educators opposing the addition of this untested question that will likely result in under-counting our communities and SIGN-ON here before July 30th. Increase your impact! After signing below, take 2 minutes to use this handy tool created by leading civil rights organizations to send an individual “public comment” to the Census.


As Asian American and Pacific Islander American professors, researchers, and educators from across the nation, we are deeply concerned by the addition of a question asking an explicit question about citizenship on the 2020 Census.

Data from the decennial Census represents the “gold standard” in terms of U.S. demographic data and are essential for understanding Asian American and Pacific Islander American populations, including their size and fast-growing numbers, areas of concentration, socioeconomic status, language proficiency, and other community needs that inform policies and investments by governments and the for-profit and non-profit sectors alike.

As researchers and teachers who rely on Census Bureau data to study Asian American and Pacific Islander American populations, we have been strong advocates for accurate and detailed counts of these diverse communities.

Asian American and Pacific Islander Americans are already at risk of being undercounted in the 2020 Census because they are more likely to live in “hard-to-count” areas (requiring more efforts to contact households to get a response) and are also more likely to be limited in English language proficiency, which further decreases the chances that they will complete the census questionnaire.[1]

A question about citizenship status only exacerbates potential for an undercount of Asian residents in the U.S., particularly the 58% who are immigrants and the 24% who are non-citizens who may fear answering such a question. Among Pacific Islanders, over 40% of Tongans and about two-thirds of Fijian Americans are foreign born.[2]  Increasing the reluctance of immigrants and non-citizens to complete the Census questionnaire will not only result in an inaccurate count of the Asian and Pacific Islander populations, it will also mean that the Census has failed in its Constitutional mandate. That mandate is to provide an accurate and detailed count of all residents, including the foreign born and non-citizens.

Results of rigorous testing related to race and ethnicity questions conducted by Census Bureau researchers,  including a massive experiment concluded in 2012 and a National Content Test in 2015, helped to inform recommendations for Census 2020.  Yet no rigorous testing was done before including the citizenship on the 2020 Census form. Failure to test the citizenship question before including it on the 2020 Census questionnaire reflects poor methodology and violates basic research norms that will have dire consequences for the U.S. Asian and Pacific Islander populations.

We urge the Bureau of the Census to remove the untested citizenship question from the 2020 Census to help ensure an accurate count of Asian American and Pacific Islander American communities.

We, the undersigned

Individual Institutional Affiliation (for identification purposes only, not institutional endorsement)

Janelle Wong, Professor, University of Maryland
Jennifer Lee, Professor of Sociology, Columbia University
Karthick Ramakrishnan, Professor & Director of AAPI Data, University of California Riverisde
Marisa Abrajano, Professor, UCSD
Alejandro T. Acierto, Mellon Assistant Professor, Art Vanderbilt University
MariaRosario Araneta, Professor, University of California San Diego
Amanda Assalone, Postdoctoral Research & Policy Analyst, Southern Education Foundation
Adrian Bacong, PhD Student, UCLA Fielding School of Public Health
Adrian Bacong, Ph.D. Student, UCLA Fielding School of Public Health
Aaron Bae, Lecturer, Arizona State University
Estela Ballon, Professor, Cal Poly Pomona
Eugenia Beh, Librarian, MIT
Melinda Bender, Assistant Professor, University of California San Francisco,
Amy Bhatt, Associate professor of gender and women’s stidies, UMBC
Jody Blanco, Professor, UC San Diego
Tracy Buenavista, California State University Northridge
May-lee Chai, Assistant Professor, San Francisco State University
Grace Chan, Development Director, Indo-American Center
Sylvia Chan-Malik, Associate Professor, Rutgers University
Edward Chang, UC Riverside
Rosy Chang Weir, Director of Research, Association of Asian Pacific Community Health Organizations
Jackie Chen, Assistant Professor, University of Utah
Grace Chen, Associate Professor, Palo Alto University
Edith Chen, Professor of Asian American Studies, California State University Northridge
Ming Chen, Associate Professor, University of Colorado Law School
Yvonne Chen, Ph.D. Student, Vanderbilt University
John Cheng, Associate Professor, Binghamton University
Anne Cheng, Professor, Princeton University
Margaret Chin, Associate Professor Department of Sociology, Hunter College
Chinbo Chong, PhD Candidate, University of Michigan
Leslie  Chow, Researcher
Jennifer Chudy, Assistant Professor of Political Science, Wellesley College
Sharon Chung, Adjunct Faculty, Millikin University
Angie Chung, Associate Professor, University at Albany
Vanessa Cruz Nichols , Postdoctoral Fellow, Indiana University
Loan Dao, Associate Professor, University of Massachusetts
Melinda Luisa de Jesus , Chair & Associate Professor, Diversity Studies California College of Arts and Crafts
Melany De La Cruz-Viesca, UCLA Asian American Studies Center
Jean-Paul deGuzman, Faculty, Windward School & UCLA
Shruti Desai, Administrator, Higher Education
Pawan Dhingra, Professor, Amherst College
Lan Doan, Graduate Student, Oregon State University
MaryDoi Doi, Chicago Japanese American Historical Society
Tuyet Duong, Former Adjunct Lecturer, University of Maryland
David L. Eng, Professor, University of Pennsylvania
Elc Estrera, PhD Student, UNC-CH
Carolyn Fan, Clinical Research Coordinator, Mount Sinai
Jenn Fang, Scholar and Blogger
Jennifer Fang, Adjunct Assistant Professor, University of Portland
laura Fugikawa, Assistant Professor, Colby College
Wilfred Fujimoto, Professor Emeritus, University of Washington
Charity Gamboa Embley, PhD Candidate, Texas Tech University College of Education
Gabriel Garcia , Associate Professor of Public Health, University of Alaska Anchorage
Megha Garg, Assistant Professor of Medicine, UCSF
Rudy Guevarra Jr., Associate Professor, Arizona State University
Sindhura Gummi, Researcher, APIC
Nayoung Ha, Organizing Director with Hana Center
Lawrence Hashima, Lecturer, California State University Long Beach
Rusty Hatchell, PhD Student, University of Texas-Austin
David Hawks, Deputy Director, NCAPIP
Ivy Ho, Associate Professor, University of Massachusetts Lowell
Jane Hong, Assistant Professor of History, Occidental College
Mai-Linh Hong, Assistant Professor of English, Bucknell University
Betina Hsieh, Associate Professor, California State University, Long Beach
Amy Hsin, Associate Professor, CUNY
William Hsu, Community Director, Loyola University New Orleans
Sarah Huang, Graduate student, Purdue University
Tiffany Huang, PhD Student, Columbia
Douglas Ishii, Assistant Professor, Emerson College
Joyce Javier, Assistant Professor,  USC Keck School of Medicine
Russell Jeung, Professor, SF State University Asian American Studies
Jane Jih, Assistant Professor, UCSF
Alka Kanaya, Professor, UCSF
Namratha Kandula , Associate Professor, Northwestern University
Miliann Kang, Associate Professor, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Reena Karani, Senior Associate Dean, Mount Sinai
Michael Karim, Fuller Theological Seminary
Sue Kim, Professor of English, UMass Lowell
Nadia Kim, Professor, Loyola Marymount University
Barbara Kim, Professor of Asian and Asian American Studies, California State University Long Beach
Ju Yon Kim, Professor, Harvard University
Simon Kim, Associate Vice President for Research, CSU Long Beach
Claire Kim, Professor, University of California Irvine
Jinee Kim Rebouh, San Francisco State University, Alumni
Jin Kim-Mozeleski, Assistant Professor, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Prema Kurien, Professor, Syracuse University
Yaejoon Kwon, Independent scholar
Gem Le, Epidemiologist, UCSF
Daniel Lee, Assistant Professor of Theology and Asian American Ministry, Fuller Theological Seminary
Marie Myung-Ok Lee, Writer in Residence & Lecturer Columbia
Taeku Lee, University of California, Berkeley
Rachel Lee, Research Specialist, Antiracist Research and Policy Center
Karen Leong, Associate Professor, Arizona State University
Rebecca Leu, Research Fellow, Wellesley College
Beth Lew-Williams , Assistant Professor Princeton University
Wei Li, Professor, ASU
Wendy Li, Graduate Fellow, Department of Sociology University of Wisconsin-Madison
Pei-Tei Lien, Professor, University of California Santa Barbara
Tehama Lopez Bunyasi, Assistant Professor, George Mason University
Lisa Lowe, Professor, Tufts University
Linshuang Lu, Adjunct Faculty, Philadeliphia College of Osteopathic Medicine
Carolyn Ly-Donovan, Assistant Professor, Augustana University
Theresa Mah, Illinois State Representative
Lisa Mar, Associate Professor, Department of History, University of Toronto
Mark Martell, Director, Asian American Resource and Cultural Center UIC
Daniel Martinez-HoSang, Associate Professor, Yale University
Syeda Masood, PhD Candidate, Brown University
Jordan Matsudaira, Associate Professor of Economics and Education, Columbia
Daniel Mayeda, Associate Director, UCLA School of Law
Edwin Mayorga, Assistant Professor, Swarthmore College
Stephen McPhee, Professor, UCSF
Chanel Meyers, Graduate student, University of Hawaii at Manoa
Kathy Nakagawa, Associate Professor, Arizona State University
Susan Nakaoka, Assistant Professor, Sacramento State University
Phil Tajitsu Nash , Adjunct Lecturer, U of Maryland Asian American Studies Program
Laura Ng, PhD Candidate, Stanford University
Mae Ngai, Professor, Columbia University
Tung Nguyen, Professor, UCSF
Connie Nguyen-Truong, Assistant Professor, Washington State University
LeiLani Nishime, Associate Professor, University of Washington
Eliza Noh, Professor, CSU Fullerton
Dina Okamoto, Professor of Sociology and Director of the Center for Research on Race and Ethnicity in Society (CRRES), Indiana University
Michael Omi, Associate Professor, University of California Berkeley
Jerry Park, Associate Professor of Sociology, Baylor University
Jung Park, Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Southern California
Terry Park, Lecturer of Asian American Studies , University of Maryland College Park
Julie J. Park, University of Maryland, Assoc. Professor
Julie Park, Director Asian American Studies (Sociology), University of Maryland
Payal Patel, Bozicevic Field and Francis LLP
Minh-Ha Pham, Associate Professor, Pratt Institute
Esther Philip, Instructor & Advisor, American University
Daniela Pila, Graduate Student, University at Albany SUNY
Oiyan Poon, Assistant Professor, Colorado State University
Joann Prosser, Director Research and Assessment (Resident Life), University of Maryland
Raymond Pun, Doctoral Student, Fresno State
Ron Rapatalo, Mentor and Educator
Angelico Razon, Post Doctoral Fellow, University of Pennsylvania & Physician & Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
Victoria Reyes, Assistant Professor, University of California Riverside
Katherine Riley, Graduate student, University of Delaware
Shigeru Sakurai, LGBT Equity Center, University of Maryland
Cathy Schlund-Vials, Professor, University of Connecticut
Juhwan Seo, Graduate student, Cornell University
Sona Shah, Assistant Director & Lecturer, Center for Asian American Studies at UT Austin
Sono Shah, PhD Candidate, University of California Riverside
Sunny Shao, PhD Student, University of California Riverisde
Nitasha Sharma, Associate Professor of Asian American Studies, Northwestern University
Jamin Shih, Graduate Student, UC Merced
Gayatri Singh, Librarian, UC San Diego
Jeannette Soon-Ludes, Director of Scholarships & Programs | APIA Scholars
Patricia Steinhoff, Professor of Sociology, University of Hawaii
John Streamas, Associate Professor, Ethnic Studies, Washington State University
R Subramanian, Research Scientist, Carnegie Mellon University
Jake Ryann Sumibcay, Doctoral Student (Public Health),Claremont Graduate University
Angela Sy, Assistant Research Professor, University of Hawaii
Kara Takasaki, PhD Student ,UT Austin
Judy Tan, Assistant Professor, UCSF
Tommy Tang, Postgraduate Associate,Yale University
Meg Thornton, UCLA
Benjamin R. Tong, Professor Emeritus, California Institute of Integral Studies San Francisco
Van Tran, Assistant Professor, Columbia
Susan Tripathy, Lecturer & Director of BLA Program, UMass Lowell
Scott Tsuchitani , Ph.D. Candidate, Cultural Studies UC Davis
Karen Umemoto, Director, UCLA Asian American Studies Center
Phitsamay Uy, Associate Professor, University of Massachusetts-Lowell
Ma Vang, Assistant Professor, University of California Merced
Trina Vithayathil, Assistant Professor, Global Studies Providence College
Emily Walton, Associate Professor of Sociology, Dartmouth College
Leslie Wang, Assistant Professor, UMass Boston
Rita Wang, Peer Educator, Yale University
Natasha Warikoo, Assistant Professor, Harvard University
Paul Watanabe, Professor of Political Science, University of Masssvhusetts Boston
Hannah Hyun White, Graduate Assistant, University of Arizona
Leslie Wong, Assistant Dean of Student Affairs for Equaity & Inclusion, University of Massachusetts Lowell
Kent Woo, Executive Director, NICOS Chinese Health Coalition
Judy Wu, Professor, University of California Irvine
Ellen Wu, Associate Professor of History, Indiana University Bloomington
Jane H. Yamashiro, Adjunct Professor, Mills College
Justine Yan, Graduate student, University of California Irvine
Joliana Yee, Assistant Dean of Student Engagement, Yale University
Mary Yee, EdD, University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education
Irene Yen, University of California, Merced
Michelle Yeung, Graduate Student, UC Merced
Jeffrey Yim, Adjunct Professor
Nic Yiu, Ph.D. Student, UCLA
Ryan Yokota, Instructor, DePaul University
Grace Yoo, Professor, Asian American Studies, San Francisco State University
Hirokazu Yoshikawa, University Professor, New York University
Nancy Yuen, Chair and Associate Professor, Department of Sociology Biola University
Yueran Zhang, PhD Student, UC Berkeley
Min Zhou, Professor, University of California Los Angeles


[1] The Leadership Conference Education Fund. 2018. “Will You Count? Asian Americans and Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders (NHPIs) in the 2020 Census.” Factsheet available at http://civilrightsdocs.info/pdf/census/2020/Fact-Sheet-AA-NHPI-HTC.pdf

[2] Statistics available at http://facts.aapidata.com/