Amata Radewagen

07/10/2019 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 07/10/2019 15:51

Amata Sends Letter to Administration Emphasizing the Importance of Counting All U.S. Nationals in the Census

Washington, D.C. - Wednesday, Congresswoman Aumua Amata sent a letter to United States Attorney General William Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross expressing the importance of fully counting U.S. Nationals in the United States Census.

'The U.S. Justice Department is making considerations regarding the Census in light of recent Supreme Court actions and administration priorities,' said Aumua Amata. 'I wanted to weigh in and really emphasize the special status of U.S. Nationals, our people's pride as Americans, and the way the Census could affect counts of U.S. Nationals both in American Samoa and throughout the entire Country.'

The complete text of Amata's letter is as follows:

Dear Attorney General Barr:

U.S. Citizens and U.S. Nationals both owe permanent allegiance to the United States and carry U.S. passports with their respective designations. Therefore, I am concerned that no provision has been made for Nationals living in the U.S. outside American Samoa to be counted in the 2020 census. The administration has expressed clear priorities regarding a citizenship question on the Census form. Within that set of priorities, and in light of the recent Supreme Court and other federal court actions, I want to bring your attention specifically to the importance of fully counting U.S. Nationals from American Samoa. This includes both those living in the Territory and the many more living elsewhere across the United States.

I appreciate the Administration's goal in following the Constitution and obtaining a full and accurate count. In support of that goal, I am concerned a citizenship question is incomplete if it does not at a minimum also clearly instruct U.S. Nationals on how to be counted. Ensuring that U.S. Nationals are just as able as their fellow Americans to affirm their nationality and be counted is, in my opinion, one of the most valid and important justifications for adding a question that includes both U.S. Citizenship or National status to the census form.

American Samoans have been Americans for 119 years. While the population of American Samoa is nearly 60,000, there are far more U.S. Nationals from American Samoa living in the 50 states than in the territory itself. Ensuring that American Samoans born in the territory and living anywhere in the U.S. are counted is necessary to prevent a loss in numbers to any district or inadvertent discrimination. Communities with large populations of U.S. Nationals including Utah, Nevada, Hawaii, California and Washington could lose access to important federal assistance if they are unable to include Nationals in their applications.

While I know provisions have been made so that those in the territory are properly counted, I am concerned that U.S. Nationals elsewhere in the country will not be properly counted, or that they will be understandably unsure what to do with a question that has only a yes or no citizenship option or two options - citizen or alien without clear instruction. Since neither option describes them properly some might fail to complete the form, or turn in an inaccurate one that is not their fault.

I request specific consideration of how best to count and fully include U.S. Nationals in the U.S. Census to forestall concerns of an under count particularly in areas with a substantial population of American Samoans. Attached is a staff memo further analyzing the status of U.S. Nationals in our system.

Finally, I just want to say how very proud to be Americans the people of American Samoa truly are. April 17, our Flag Day, celebrates the date the U.S. flag first was raised in our islands in 1900 and is by far our most important secular holiday. American Samoans serve at the very highest rates of enlistment on a per capita basis in the Armed Forces. Our per capita Veteran population is also high and unfortunately, our casualty rate has been historically one of the highest as well. So please make their service and ultimate sacrifice truly count by counting their fellow U.S. Nationals throughout both American Samoa and the entire United States.

On behalf of our people, I thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

Aumua Amata Coleman Radewagen

Member of Congress

Cc: The Honorable Wilbur Ross, Secretary of Commerce

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