(LOS ANGELES, CA – 4/26/2019) – The Greater Los Angeles Area office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-LA) today released the results of a community outreach study that aimed to ascertain American Muslim perspectives regarding the 2020 Census.

The results of the study revealed a general sense of indifference and apathy, coupled with concern and distrust of the current administration around personal information.

The study was funded by the California Community Foundation and the Weingart Foundation. The study methods comprised a mix of qualitative focus groups with leaders in the American Muslim communities of Los Angeles and Orange counties and the Inland Empire, followed by a community survey administered at community events, mosques, student associations, community centers and on social media.

Both focus groups and surveys examined perceptions, barriers and potential outreach strategies around the 2020 Census with the diverse American Muslim communities of Southern California. Overall, 33 community leaders participated in the focus groups and more than 1,400 community members completed the survey.

READ: An Exploration of Perceptions, Barriers, and Outreach Strategies for the 2020 U.S. Census within Southern CA Muslim American Communities


The results of the study showed younger American Muslims, who have less experience with previous census efforts, appear generally apathetic toward civic engagement overall, and are suspicious about the federal government’s intentions and actions.


  • Even among community leaders, experience with and knowledge about the census is low.
  • Younger adults were more negative toward the concept of the census and quick to judge or criticize the utility of it.
  • Conversely, older adults or those leaders who had relied on census data before were more positive toward the upcoming census count, and even slightly alarmed by their younger colleagues’ views.

One of the most contentious components proposed for the upcoming 2020 Census is the addition of a question about citizenship status.

In reviewing the 2020 Census test form in the focus groups, participants were struck by the invasiveness of the questions, including the proposed citizenship question.

To further gauge the potential effect of this question on response behavior, survey respondents were asked about their likelihood of participating in the 2020 Census with the addition of the citizenship question. Over half of respondents felt their likelihood of participating would be unaffected, while 18% were more likely and 24% were less likely to participate.

“It is imperative that the American Muslim community participate in Census 2020 because if we do not get counted as a population then programs like Head Start, SNAP, Section 8 Housing and other programs that directly serve the American Muslim community will lose funding,” said Fayaz Nawabi, CAIR-LA’s policy and advocacy manager. “As we reflect on the study results, we will consider next steps to deepen understanding and uplift the challenges the 2020 Census presents for American Muslims in the Greater Los Angeles area and look for potential opportunities to inform the community leading up to 2020.”

CAIR-LA is Southern California’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance understanding of Islam, protect civil rights, promote justice and empower American Muslims.

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CONTACT: CAIR-LA Communications Manager Eugene W. Fields, 714-776-1847 or efields@cair.com