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What is Make Portuguese Count about?

PALCUS has launched a national campaign to encourage the participation of Portuguese Americans in the 2020 U.S. Census under the tagline Make Portuguese Count™.  PALCUS has been working with the U.S. Census Bureau to establish the first national Complete Count Committee in the history of the Bureau so that all U.S. residents who claim Portuguese ancestry will be informed and counted as "Portuguese" in the 2020 Census.




Background:   For over ten years, PALCUS has been in contact with the bureau to clarify two issues surrounding  the counting of Portuguese-Americans in the census: 1) to refrain from including Portuguese under any Hispanic or Latino designation and 2) to create a separate line for Portuguese under the “Race” category.


In a poll initiated by PALCUS (“Should the Portuguese Be Considered Hispanic?”, Scott, 2013), over 83% of respondents declared that they did not identify as Hispanic and therefore would not identify themselves as such on a census questionnaire. These findings were reported to the Bureau's National Advisory Committee on Racial, Ethnic and Other Populations. As a result, the Race and Hispanic Origin Working Group for the 2020 Census recommended in its Final Report (June 10, 2014): Portuguese Descendant and Portuguese Speaking Populations

The WG (Working Group) members recognize that the “combined race and origin write in box” accommodates persons of Portuguese descent and for persons who are Portuguese speaking. In this manner, they can select the other racial categories that are not “Hispanic”; as well as insert information about their country of origin.   

This resulted in the combined race and origin questionnaire that will be used for Question #7 in the 2020 Questionnaire.    (See report HERE.)

Why is this important for our community?

The impact of an accurate census count for the communities where Portuguese Americans live is significant for several reasons:

  1. communities can receive their fair share of the more than $675 billion per year in federal funds spent on schools, hospitals, roads, public works and other vital programs;

  2. business make decisions on where to build factories, offices and stores, thereby creating jobs;

  3. developers use the census to build new homes and revitalize old neighborhoods;

  4. local governments use the census for public safety and emergency preparedness;

  5. the boundaries and number of congressional districts are determined for each state.













How will Portuguese Americans be counted in 2020?

The constitutional mandate of U.S. Census Bureau is to "count every person living in the United States once and in one place in 2020." 

Beginning on March 12, 2020, all residents of the United States will be asked to complete a short questionnaire about EACH PERSON living in their household (one questionnaire per household) in the following ways:

  • online on your computer, laptop, tablet or mobile device at 

  • phone at 844-330-2020 (for English) or 844-474-2020 (for Portuguese)

By April 8th, if you have not responded online or by phone, then:

  • you will receive a reminder AND a paper questionnaire in the mail to fill out and mail back

By the May 28th, if you have not responded online, by phone or by mail:

  • an official Census Taker will come to your door to interview you in person up to 12 times until August 14th.

Question on Race / Origin captures both race AND ethnic origin for each individual. In this format, the respondent will first check their race (white, black, Asian, American Native, Pacific Islander, etc) but then write their origin, i.e. Portuguese, Italian, Cape Verdean, Samoan, Chinese, etc.) in the spaces under the race they check off.


As a result of meeting with officials in the Population Division of U.S. Census Bureau Headquarters, the following has been clarified about the coding and tabulation of "Portuguese" as an ethnic group:

  • "Portuguese" has now been assigned a code number as an ethnic group which it did not have in the 2010 Census, hence there was no data for 2010;

  • "Azores Islander" and "Madeiran" also have individual codes under "Portuguese" and will be tabulated in the total for "Portuguese";

  • "Portuguese" will be coded and tabulated (counted) when written under ANY racial option, i.e. White, Black/African-American, American Indian, Asian, Pacific Islander or Some Other Race;

  • "Portuguese" will NOT be categorized under "Hispanic". Hispanic does not appear under Question #7: Race / Origins and has it own question;

  • Respondents are encouraged to check off and write in as many races and origins as the individual identifies himself or herself;

  • Respondents may write in up to 6 ancestries under "Origins".


Pledge to Write "Portuguese" on the 2020 Census


Some Examples of How to Respond to the Race / Origins Question:  (Hover over form for details)


The Portuguese as an ethnic group have not had a "complete count" in over 20 years. Because of the lack of an ancestry question, Portuguese was neither coded nor tabulated in the 2010 Census and counted only as "White" rendering us invisible for statistical purposes. This hampers our efforts in education, civic engagement and health research.

Without official statistics we are unable to demonstrate how many and where we are in:

1) applying for grants for Portuguese Language Education or defending such programs before local school committees;

2) proving our political strength to elected officials in districts of high Portuguese population;

3) undertaking health studies about the disease rates among the Portuguese in specific communities.


Important Notice About "Group Quarters" for Students & Elderly!

"Group Quarters" includes dormitories, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, prisons or similar group housing situations.

PLEASE NOTE PER NY Regional Census Director Jeff Behler:

  • Students living in college dormitories are not counted at home with their parents.  They are counted at the college campuses where they sleep most of the time. Students of Portuguese descent are urged to self-respond online so that they will be able to write "Portuguese" on the Race/Origin Question. Even if the college administration reports all living on campus, we encourage Portuguese-American students to self-respond so that they can be counted AS Portuguese.

  • Families of elderly living in nursing homes or assisted living should help them self-respond online using your tablet or mobile device so they can answer the Race/Origin questions as "Portuguese" even if the facility reports all living in the facility.

Steps to Self-Respond Online:

  1. Log onto

  2. Select "I don't have a code number."

  3. Enter the address of the dormitory or facillity.

  4. Answer the 9 simple questions.

  5. Don't forget to write "Portuguese" as your origin under the Race/Origin Question!

  6. You are done!!   Thank you!


Contact Marie Fraley, PALCUS National Census Director at


Gracielle Camilo, Program Coordinator at 202-466-4664