To address the rapid Asian American population growth in the past 10 years and the fact that Asian Americans are the fastest growing ethnic group in the city, Councilman Daniel Dromm proposed a new bill last week.
The bill asks that New York City agencies, when collecting data on ethnic groups, specify the Asian ethnicity by the location of birth place and language spoken. This will allow government agencies and the polices they enact to meet the service needs in the Asian community. Diverse representatives of the Asian community all came to support the bill.
This bill proposes that when collecting statistics, the government should specify the country of origin, such as Mainland China, Taiwan, Japan, Korean, Indian, Malaysia, etc. The data would also include the language spoken, including 20 common languages in Asia.
“If we do not completely understand the makeup of the Asian American population, then how can we deliver services to those who are underrepresented?” said Dromm. He pointed out that the goal of the bill is to understand the needs of all Asian groups in New York City. A similar bill was proposed earlier by Grace Meng at the State Assembly.
Wayne Ho, executive director of the Asian Children and Family Coalition, pointed out that in order to enforce local government’s responsibilities, New York City must have this law.
“Very often, when we read governmental reports, we often see Hispanics, African Americans and ‘Other.’ Or we will see that all groups are included in ‘Asians.’ This type of data is not accurate,” he said. For example, according to statistics, one out of eight Asians, does not have health insurance. However, a detailed investigation shows that among Chinese and Indians, one out of 10 people does not have health insurance, but among Koreans, one out of two don’t.
According to Councilwoman Margaret Chen, who supports the bill, the detailed statistics allows the government to distribute services properly. She also believes that the City Council should allow people to have more choices in term of self-identification. For example, many people are mixed. This option would allow them to feel recognized.
Joyce Moy, executive director of CUNY’s Asian American / Asian Research Institute, said that there are 40,000 Asian students in the city university system. “They are our leaders, business leaders, and community members in the future,” she said. The detailed statistics would provide more effective services, including health care, education and senior centers.
“This will motivate different groups to be more involved and also benefit them,” she said.