This article is a response to Mark Pfeifers Cambodian, Hmong, Lao and Vietnamese Americans in the 2005 American Community Survey and elaborates on the utility of the American Community Survey (ACS) for studying immigrant groups in the United States of America, and also compares the ACS to the U.S. Census. Neither the Census nor ACS questionnaire is structured to capture the language and literacy skills of immigrant communities in as far as these surveys only collect information about respondents oral language abilities, with a focus on English fluency. Direct, self-reported, and surrogate measures of literacy are discussed, with a proposal to use education level as surrogate for literacy. Using the Vietnamese subpopulation in the ACS, examples are presented of ways to construct composite variables from the ACS raw microdata, to measure respondents bilingualism and biliteracy. When such new variables are used in analysis of immigrant communities, a more complex multilingual picture emerges than is presented normally in Census and ACS data products available to the public.

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