US census to collect responses in Arabic, six other languages for the first time

The U.S. census for the first time in 2020 will collect responses in Arabic, one of the fastest growing languages in the country.

NPR reports the federal government in addition to Arabic will also accept census responses in French, Haitian Creole, Japanese, Polish, Portuguese and Tagalog for the first time.


The seven new languages added will bring the total to 13, more than doubling the previous amount of languages the government previously accepted for census responses.

English, Chinese, Korean, Russian, Spanish and Vietnamese were languages already accepted for the census.

"This is a huge leap forward from what we did in 2010, expanding the number of languages for the internet and for telephone," Jennifer Kim, an assistant division chief at the U.S. Census Bureau, told NPR.

NPR notes, according to an estimate from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, that there are more than a million Arabic speakers in the United States. Of the million, more than a third do not speak English “very well.”

"The more languages we make available, the more people that are able to respond on their own," Kim said.

The Trump administration is still pushing for a controversial citizenship question to be added to the 2020 census, though federal judges in both California and New York have blocked that effort.

The Supreme Court is expected to weigh in on the issue in the coming months.