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2020 US Census questionnaire: There is no option for US nationals

Screenshot of the 2020 Census Questionnaire for the United States shows the citizenship question, with options to choose from but nothing for US Nationals — persons born in American Samoa.  [photo: FS]
Congresswoman Amata is seeking clarity on the issue

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The US Census Bureau’s planned 2020 Census Questionnaire for the United States, which includes a question regarding citizenship status, leaves out US Nationals, which is the status given to persons born in American Samoa; and some US news outlets say this is a “flaw”.

“It leaves out an entire category of Americans,” according to one news outlet, referring to US nationals born in the territory.

And American Samoans living in the US have raised with Samoa News their concerns of not being counted properly in the next census or worse, being considered “foreigners living... in our own motherland, the United States”.

Some of them have inquired if Congresswoman Aumua Amata can look into the issue so “we, American Samoans, are counted correctly” in 2020.

“At the Congresswoman's direction, we are actively doing some research and sending out some questions to people in the [Trump] administration for answers to get some clarity on these issues,” said Amata’s spokesperson, Joel Hannahs in response to Samoa News inquiries.

The 2020 questionnaire on US citizenship status became a controversy — with protests in cities across the US mainland — when the US Commerce Department, which oversees the Census Bureau announced on Mar. 26, that the question on citizenship status will be reinstated into the 2020 decennial census questionnaire to help the Voting Rights Act (VRA).

US Secretary of Commerce, Wilbur Ross, said in a Mar. 26th letter to Commerce Under Secretary for Economic Affairs, that the reinstatement followed a request last December from the US Justice Department.

On Mar. 29th, the 2020 planned questions for the census were submitted by the US Commerce Department to the US Congress — as required by federal law — with the next submission in April 2020. The federal agency has made public a copy of the ‘Questions Planned for the 2020 Census and American Community Survey” on its website [].

Under the citizenship question, respondents are given five options — or answers — to check: born in the United States; born in Puerto Rico, Guam, US Virgin Islands or Northern Mariana Islands; born abroad of US citizen parent or parents; citizen by naturalization; and not a US citizen.

There is no specific answer for persons born in American Samoa and who are US nationals.

One question does ask where the person was born and if outside of the U.S. to print the name of the country, or Puerto Rico, Guam, etc.

There is also a question about a person's race, and there is a box to check for: Native Hawaiian, Samoan, Chamorro, or Other Pacific Island.

What remains unclear so far is whether there are plans to amend the 2020 questions and if such changes will include “US nationals” for the United States.

As previously reported by Samoa News, the US citizenship and US national status have always been included under the America Samoa Census, carried out by the US Census Bureau. It's expected to be on the 2020 American Samoa Census as well.