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." 

Residents of the United States will be asked to complete a questionnaire about ALL those living in their household (one questionnaire per household) in one of four ways:

  • online (computer),

  • paper form received and returned by U.S. Mail

  • phone

If a household does not respond by any of these three methods, then a census worker will come to the home for a personal interview.

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".


































PALCUS is proud to introduce the three Portuguese-American young adults who depict pride and enthusiasm for their culture. They will provide the inspiration for the next phase of the Make Portuguese Count™ in the 2020 Census Campaign. Here's a little more about these bright, young Portuguese Americans:


Mikel Santos: Mikel's family hails from Leiria and Lisbon, Portugal. He is currently an 11th grade student at Patchogue Medford High School and plays soccer on his high school varsity team and for Susa Academy. He speaks and reads Portuguese fluently, and chooses to celebrate his Portuguese culture by dancing in the Rancho Aldeias de Portugal and by participating as a member of the NYPALC Youth Council.


Emily Portal: Emily's family is from Arcos de Valdevez, Portugal. Emily is studying  at Stony Brook University on the Pre-Med track majoring in Biology and Psychology. Her activities include performing with the Rancho Aldeias de Portugal and playing collegiate level women's tennis.


John Santos and his family are from Caldas da Rainha, Portugal. John is currently studying Technological Systems Management at Stony Brook University's College of Engineering and Applied Sciences. He celebrates his Portuguese heritage by dancing in the Rancho Aldeias de Portugal.



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.

Meet the faces of the Make Portuguese Count™ Campaign!

(L-R) Mikel Santos, Emily Portal, John Santos at Farmingville, NY Memorial Day Parade representing Portuguese-American Center of Suffolk County, Photo courtesy of Benvinda Santos


Contact Marie Fraley, PALCUS National Census Director at marie.fraley@palcus.org


Gracielle Camilo, Program Coordinator at 202-466-4664

Call Us: 1-202-466-4664 /  email: palcus@palcus.org   /  9255 Center St., Suite 404, Manassas, VA 20110

EIN: 52-1739459

Copyright (c) PALCUS, 2019.  All rights reserved.

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