U.S. Census officials, organizers continue virtual community outreach

NEW YORK — Social gatherings may never be the same even after the COVID-19 pandemic is over.

What was supposed to be a physical gathering of dozens of Filipino community leaders and members for a U.S. Census 2020 engagement and awareness event turned into a virtual coming-together via live streaming technology – reminding Fil-Ams why it’s important to be counted.

“It’s important, you know, we don’t ask for your social security number, we never ask for bank account or credit account information, we never as for money, we never ask anything on behalf of a political party.” said regional director Jeff Behler.

NaFFAA executive director Carissa Villacorta said their U.S. Census 2020 livestream has so far been viewed by at least 21,000 times.

“Through this uncertain time, as we practice social distancing and self-isolation as mandated by our health professional friends, may we always remember that the bayanihan spirit is very much alive among Filipinos,” she said.

“We believe that this is really important, and that is why we are here, right now,” said Laura Garcia.

Regional Director Jeff Behler emphasized that the census is safe, easy, and important in terms of proper allocation of funds in the community.

It’s the hundreds and billions of dollars that are going into your community, communities around this nation for things like healthcare, and for education, and for highway planning, ensuring your emergency services has firetrucks, and policemen to serve your community

Most importantly, Behler said, the citizenship question never made it to the Census questionnaire, so there is no reason for the undocumented not to participate and be counted.

The census wants to count every single person in the U.S. on April 1, including undocumented immigrants.

“If we have families here who are undocumented, we need to be sure they are counted in the census … every piece of data we collect is protected under federal law – a law called title 13. Local, state, and federal law enforcement can never access our data at any time for any reason, which means ice and homeland security can never access our data.”

Heads of households can now access the U.S. Census 2020 questionnaire by logging on to my2020census.gov, where a full survey can be filled out in a matter of 10 minutes.

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