Census is More Than a Right: An Interview with Doaa Al-Tameemi
Since 2020 began, CIANA’s dedicated Census Outreach team has been contacting clients and Astoria residents to get them counted in the 2020 Census, which started March 12. Doaa Al-Tameemi joined the team in early March, and has participated in all our outreach activities, such as street outreach, visiting public schools, and Text Out the Count on March 23.
“I was looking for an opportunity to work with people, as well as somewhere where my expertise and education could be useful,” Doaa says. “I chose to be involved with CIANA first, then the Census. It’s the place that felt welcoming to me, but once I got to the project at hand I found myself learning more about [the Census’] importance with every step of the way.”
As a recent immigrant from Iraq, Doaa relates to the struggle of fitting in with a new community, achieving social mobility, and letting one’s voice be heard. Although there are many organizations in existence that help new Americans through this process, “CIANA excels at it,” according to Doaa.
Immigrant communities often miss out on the hundreds of billions of dollars that the federal government allocates every ten years based on Census data. For Doaa, immigrants being counted is more than just a right; it’s a civic duty and responsibility.
“Everyone naturally has the right to make their voice heard. Most immigrants have had a long journey to reach a point where they are a part of a society where they belong…It becomes apparent that we all must count and allow for those who share our communities to count.”
Doaa also speaks Arabic, which is invaluable to communicating with CIANA clients and Astoria residents, many of whom primarily speak Arabic. Language competency is helpful not only to providing accurate information about the importance and the safety of the Census, Doaa explains, but also to listening to their concerns and communicating with them in general.
In doing so, Doaa hopes that even after the Census ends, actively listening to immigrants will allow them to “translate their needs and wants into actions.”
“I hope I manage to help them comprehend the impacts of participating in the census," she says, "and other issues where one person could make a difference in the lives of countless members of their community."