September 11 Digital Archive

The numbers game continues for Haitians


The numbers game continues for Haitians



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The numbers game continues for Haitians

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Macollvie Jean-François

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Haitian Times

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Two years after asking for mass support for collecting its data, the Census Bureau does not know how many Haitians or Haitian-Americans live in the United States.

In 2000, census data was collected indiscriminately, but the results are not being furnished as inclusively because those who participated do not know how many others of shared ancestry are living here.

All non-Hispanic black people are lumped under African-American, even though the bureau pledged to break down the African-American category into the various black groups and have it ready last month.

Such ancestry data, called Summary File 3 (SF3), has been released for 12 states, but there is no national estimate yet.

Its the way we process the files, said Cynthia Davis, a Census Bureau analyst. Theyre processed on a state-by-state basis… Theres no way to process all 50 states and the District of Columbia at the same time.

The original date for the Census Bureau to release ancestry data was last month, Davis said, but its release has been delayed because of problems with the collected information. She did not know who decides when the SF3 is calculated or released.

Among the data that the SF3 contains is a demographic profile of the 31 million foreign-born residents who make up 11 percent of the countrys population.

In the months leading to Census 2000, the bureaus aggressive advertising campaign encouraged residents, especially ethnic and minority groups, to participate so that they would not be left out of the benefits such data would bring to their communities. During the past two years, that data has been used to support such changes as the redrawing of congressional district lines and new budgets for municipalities.

Some community organizers have said that Haitians and Haitian-Americans must be counted so that they can get necessary funding for such special needs as immigration. They have discussed breaking down the African-American category on the next census, similar to the way Hispanic and Asian groups are categorized. Their hope is that the number of Haitians in the country would be released simultaneously with Hispanic and Asian figures, which is less than two years.

It is a priority, but at the same time, we have to review the data and make sure that its correct before we release it to the public, Davis said.

She said the bureau will process the data for all states and have the national figures by September 30. In the meantime, they will release the information for each state as it is processed. New York is among the 12 states whose numbers have been released as of August 19.

According to New York Citys Department of Planning, 2000 census data show that 118,769 people of Haitian ancestry live in the five boroughs, compared with 85,692 in 1990. Thats a 38.76 percent increase. It covers census applicants who wrote in on the long form that they were either born in Haiti or the United States of Haitian parents and naturalized citizens, as well as those claiming at least one Haitian parent.

New York State reports 60,319 people of Haitian ancestry overall, department staff said. Aside from the 74 percent of that number within the five boroughs, the remaining 23 percent reside in Westchester, Nassau, Suffolk and Rockland counties. Brooklyn has the highest concentration of Haitians, with 88,763, followed by Queens, with 45,839.

The Haitian community is growing, but its still kind of small, said Tim Calabrese, a research assistant at the Population Division of the New York City Department of City Planning.

Florida, which has the largest concentration of Haitians, in Miami, is not among the states the bureau has processed as of August 1.

Florida tends to be last when it comes to having such data, said Oliver Kerr, a staff member at the Miami-Dade County Department of Planning and Zoning.

Kerr said that based on a supplementary survey taken after the 2000 Census, there are an estimated 97,793 Haitians living in Miami-Dade, 65,100 in Broward and 37,737 in Palm Beach counties. The bureau expects to release the data for Florida later this month.

Without census data to prove how a population is evolving, community organizers said the ethnic group may well not exist in the eyes of those who allocate government funds. Population data is used by federal, state and city governments to decide the amount of money communities will receive to run school districts; libraries; youth and elderly programs; community centers; sanitation, police and fire precincts; and other services that affect the quality of life.

The Haitian community needs those solid numbers if it hopes to achieve anything in the United States, said Louis H. Marcelin, Ph.D., an anthropology professor at the University of Miami. Marcelin has stated that demographic data would help government officials take the Haitian community seriously.

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“The numbers game continues for Haitians,” September 11 Digital Archive, accessed February 25, 2024,