There’s no checkbox to identify as Taiwanese American on this year’s census.
The Taiwanese American Citizens League (TACL) is looking to change that.
For the fourth census in a row, the TACL has launched a campaign to educate Taiwanese Americans about the census, encouraging those to check “Other Asian” and write in “Taiwanese America” or “Taiwanese” on the form.
“The 2020 census is an opportunity to showcase the diversity within the Asian American community,” one of the videos says.
The U.S. has acknowledged “Chinese” or “Asian American” as an option for census forms since 1860, only adding “Asian or Pacific Islander” and “Other Asian” in 1990, according to a CityLab historical analysis. But there’s no option for those who identify as Taiwanese because the U.S. does not recognize Taiwan as a country or as an independent entity, in accordance with the official Chinese government position — though the U.S. and Taiwan are trade and aid partners. The U.S. and Taiwan do maintain unofficial relations through the Taiwan Relations Act and through the American Institute in Taiwan.
Nevertheless, the distinction is important to some who don’t identify as Chinese.
“We don’t know what kind of Asian that they are and policy-wise we can’t really hone in on who’s there. In the snapshot of America, ‘Other Asian’ doesn’t really tell you very much,” said Christina Hu, director of civic organization at the Taiwanese Americans Citizen League (TACL), in an interview with The Hill. “There’s something lost in that if you don’t write-in [Taiwanese].”
Over 215,000 respondents identified as Taiwanese in the 2010 Census. The Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana metropolitan area had the highest Taiwanese population in the 2010 census, with over 60,000 individuals.
The U.S. Census Bureau defines “Asian” as someone “having origins in any of the original peoples of the Far East, Southeast Asia, or the Indian subcontinent,” including those from Cambodia, China, India, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Pakistan, the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, and those who choose the “Other Asian” option. (The Chinese category includes Taiwanese.)
PEW Research reports that there are 20 million Asian Americans, with the population growing 72% between 2000 and 2015, noted as the fastest-growing ethnic population in the U.S.
TACL’s campaign launched in March, mainly through social media and partnering with other advocacy organizations, such as the Intercollegiate Taiwanese American Students Association and the Taiwanese American Foundation.
“If we become a recognizable political force then we do get more political power,” Hu said. “You’re a different type of American presence, so you want to advocate for your own community.”
The census form arrives starting March 20th, and it should be mailed back or answered by April 1, 2020.
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