Should international students fill out the US Census 2010?

My housemate and I just received the form for the 2010 US Census. Our first reaction was to throw it directly to the recycle bin, just like what we do to every spam mail we got from Capital One. We both thought the 2010 US Census form is only for Americans, you know for citizens. Census we thought is a count of the citizens, a periodic count of the country’s population (in this case the United States), all for purposes of taxation. So why will the U.S. mind both of us, international students, who may not be staying in the country for good?

The 2010 US Census stayed in the brown box bin for two days until my sister, who will soon become a U.S. citizen, called and asked me about the survey. That was when I thought that maybe my housemate and I were wrong.

I retrieved the form (I am glad we did not tear it apart, like what we do usually with the Capital One mails). I read the cover letter and to my surprise, it never mentioned anything about “only for US citizens.” It stated, however, that the 2010 US Census is for “all the people living in the house or apartment.” That the form is to count everyone in the United States.

What is really lacking in this survey is the dissemination of information for international students. I have never seen any flier or even a TV commercial that asks everyone, including us, to join the census. Will those living in the dorms get the forms too? Not a word or line has been stated in the form that would, at least, give us a hint that we needed to fill out the form and send it back. Our university did not inform us either.

Thanks to Google! A quick googling pointed us to the answers to the question “Should International Students answer the US Census 2010?” Census.gov posted:

Not a U.S. citizen? The census is a count of everyone residing in the United States: in all 50 states, Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and American Samoa. This includes people of all ages, races and ethnic groups, both citizens and non-citizens. So even if you are not a U.S. citizen but you live and sleep in the U.S. most of the year, you will be counted in the census.

An international student? As the above point explains, the census is a count of everyone residing in the United States. The Census Bureau is mandated by the Constitution to count everyone who lives in this country, regardless of immigration or citizenship status. So even if the U.S. is not your country of citizenship, if you live and sleep in the U.S. most of the year, you will be counted in the census.

Studying abroad for part of the year? Census Day is April 1, 2010. Questionnaire responses should represent your household as it exists on this day. Thus, if you are living and studying abroad on April 1, 2010, you will not be counted in the census. Conversely, if you live and study abroad during part of the year but are living in the U.S. on April 1, 2010, you will be counted in the census.

Thus, as international students, we are part of the 2010 U.S. Census.

No information coming from the University. No infomercial on TV. If you found this post because you googled first, good for you. For those who may read this post later and, probably had failed to fill out and return the form on time, sorry, there is nothing you can do.

To all students reading this, please respond to the request and send the form back. For help in filling out the form, visit www.2010.census.gov.

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