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Las Vegas census event aims to boost Asian-American involvement

Start a conversation about the 2020 census.

That’s the message about 50 locals received Saturday during daylong training about improving participation in the nationwide survey at the start of every decade.

The event, hosted at the Asian Community Development Center on South Jones Boulevard, focused on outreach to local Asian-American and Pacific Islander households.

“Ultimately the power lies within the community,” said APIAVote spokeswoman Jennifer Baik, whose organization co-hosted the event. “At the end of the day folks have to let their family know, let their friends know. They have to really encourage the people around them (to complete the census).”

Asian-Americans are the nation’s fastest-growing racial or ethnic group. In Clark County, the Asian-American population has more than tripled since 2000, totaling more than 220,000 today, according to the latest census estimates.

Every person added should ensure Nevada keeps its four U.S. House of Representatives seats and gets a bigger portion of more than $675 billion in federal funding, which is spread among the states based on population recorded in the 2020 census.

But members of the Asian-American and Pacific Islander community, many of whom are immigrants, are at risk of being undercounted in the census. That is being caused, in part, by language barriers and a distrust of government.

The latter has been exacerbated by the possibility of a question about citizenship status being included on the census, said Emily Zamora, a member of Gov. Steve Sisolak’s Complete Count Committee.

“They don’t trust the government in their own countries, so they don’t just come to America and trust the government here,” she said. “So knowing the census bureau is a government entity, there is a lot of hesitation to participate.”

Those attending Saturday’s event, including U.S. Rep. Steven Horsford, were urged to remind their community members their answers on the census would be kept confidential and that participating in the survey would bring in more federal funding to their community for education, health care and infrastructure.

“Know the people you’re speaking with and how the census will touch them personally,” Assemblywoman Rochelle Nguyen, D-Las Vegas, said. “I think a lot of it is word of mouth. I know for me the messaging that worked was the money.”

More information about how the census impacts AAPI communities can be found online at CountUsIn2020.org, Baik said.

Irving Nogoy, a 24-year-old Las Vegas resident who attended the event, said that until Saturday, he knew little about the census or the significant effect it has on Nevada’s allocation of federal funding. He left with a new passion to spread the word about the count, which will be held April 1.

“I want to figure out how I can get involved in disseminating information to my immediate family first,” Nogoy said. “I’m curious how much people actually know.”

Contact Michael Scott Davidson at sdavidson@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3861. Follow @davidsonlvrj on Twitter.

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