Meet the Census Team: Abdallah Alsafi
The 2020 Census begins on March 12, and a complete count of the entire community- immigrants in particular- is vital to get the funding and representation it needs. CIANA’s dedicated team of outreach workers and interns has been busy going into the community, informing our immigrant neighbors about Census, and helping them to pledge to complete it.
One of our Census Outreach Workers, Abdallah Alsafi, was motivated to get involved with the Census by his own identity as an immigrant himself, and as part of a greater desire to help the immigrant community.
Originally born in Iraq, Alsafi and his family moved to Lebanon when he was very young, and then from Lebanon to Texas. Now in New York as a sophomore at St. John’s University, Abdallah decided to get involved with the 2020 Census to raise awareness of its importance and to dispel the misinformation surrounding it, especially when it comes to immigration.
“A lot of people don’t understand that their immigration status has nothing to do with the Census, and that it’s merely just statistics and funding." Abdallah says. “I think that it’s really, really important to end the stigma and start a fresh new page for the Census.”
Having watched his parents navigate through the complex naturalization process on their own, and growing up seeing the broader struggles of immigrants in general, Abdallah was drawn to CIANA’s overall mission to help immigrants adapt to life in the U.S. The Census is one more way that CIANA helps and provides assistance to the immigrant community.
Abdallah and the Census team have gone directly into these communities, engaging directly with neighborhood residents and business owners, and visiting local public schools to inform the broader community. Being a native Arabic speaker has allowed Abdallah to connect with community members on a personal level and communicate more effectively about the Census.
Abdallah's Census-related work isn’t limited to just CIANA; he is in the process of setting up a Census table at his school, St. John’s University in Queens. “My school is very, very diverse, and so that way it’ll get to students’ parents, and from parents to the community, and so as just have the word out as much as possible.”
One of the most important relationships between the Census and immigration is, in Abdallah’s opinion, what it means for children of immigrants. “A lot of immigrants come to this country for their children and for more opportunities that they didn’t have,” he says.
“The Census is another way that they can help their children, help their neighbors, and help themselves, to create a better life and get more resources for everyone.”
Note: Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, Abdallah Alsafi had to return home to Texas and is no longer assisting CIANA with Census outreach.