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The census numbers don’t add up for Asian American Pacific Islanders

Among California’s 38 million population, 11 million are classified as “hard to count.” About half of that population are Asian American and Pacific Islanders, according to SFGate.

To address the issue of counting Asian, Black and Latinx populations in the state during the coronavirus pandemic, the state is allotting $187 million for “outreach and public awareness efforts” and partnering with community non-profits.

State leaders also promoted filling out the census through a Facebook Live forum as a part of Asian American Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month events.

The Pew Research Center calculates that Asian Americans are the fastest growing segment of the voting population, with 11 million eligible to cast their ballots this year. They make up 5 percent of all the eligible voters in the United States.

But COVID-19 has slowed the complete count of Asian Americans across America, as shelter-at-home orders and social distancing, on top of anti-Asian crimes and harassment, may prevent individuals from attending community gatherings through which census efforts are promoted.

“Some people may say, ‘Well (the pandemic) is our big problem. Why should we be worrying about the census right now?'” California Sen. Dr. Richard Pan, D-Sacramento, told SFGate.

The pandemic actually emphasizes the necessity for a complete census count, Pan said. Census counts determine budget allocations, which impact education, infrastructure, food and housing assistance and recovery efforts of disasters such as the virus.

The census also determines redistricting, which is crucial for accurate representation of Asian Americans and other groups across geographic regions and counters gerrymandering.

This is not just a California problem. Vox reports that communities of color, which has historically been underrepresented in the census, may again be undercounted due to the pandemic. It may cost these communities millions in funding and aid for the next decade to come, the article adds.

“Billions in federal dollars flow to state governments and to the local level,” Michael C. Cook Sr., a US Census Bureau spokesperson, told Vox. “It’s about power and money. It shapes the future.”

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