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US Cambodians Urged To Join Census

As the US completes a new national census, one group in California is working to have more Cambodian-Americans participate and gain the benefits of better representation.

Sara Pol-Lim, executive director of the United Cambodian Community, a group based in Long Beach, told “Hello VOA” on Thursday Cambodians can benefit politically, economically and socially by taking part in the census.

An estimated 300,000 Cambodians live in the US, but only about 100,000 show up on the census, she said. That means they lose a voice within their communities and government.

For instance, the US government looks at the numbers of immigrants from different countries when it determines budgets, and having more people on a census can also mean better representation in the House of Representatives, she said.

A more accurate census can lead to more jobs and attract businesses and investment targeted to specific communities. In California, that can mean benefits for a high percentage of Asians, from China, Japan, South Korea and Vietnam, as well as Cambodia.

“That’s why we are working hard to make all our brothers and sisters understand the importance, especially those elderly who have received money [like welfare and social security] since they came to the US,” she said.

The United Cambodian Community has been operating since 1977, when it was formed to help Cambodians adjust to life in the US.

The US Census Bureau says 72 percent of households participated in the 2010 census, but census-takers are now going door-to-door to retrieve responses from households.

Sara Pol-Lim said now is the time to return forms to the census-takers if they have not been sent in already. She also said the census-takers are not to be feared, as they will not ask for confidential information. People should remember to have an ID ready, she said.