A new proposal from the Biden Administration calls for the census and federal surveys to add a new group labeled “Middle Eastern and North African,” which would mark the first new ethnic group added to federal records since 1997.
According to ABC News, the new proposals released Thursday would combine all questions about race and Hispanic ethnicity into a single question, rather than keeping them separate as the 1997 standards do. The proposals were crafted by a group of selected representatives from multiple federal agencies, organized by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB).
Some activists claim that keeping the “race and Hispanic origin” question separate leads to confusion among Hispanic respondents, pointing to research conducted by the Census Bureau in 2010 which allegedly proved that combining the questions yields higher rates of response.
Over the years, those who would otherwise be considered Middle Eastern or Northern African would essentially consider themselves White due to not being Hispanic. As such, the new proposal would create their own separate category, abbreviated as MENA. Some of the countries that would be included in the MENA category include Israel, Egypt, Iran, Syria, Lebanon, and Morocco.
“This is a really big deal,” said Maya Berry, executive director of the left-wing Arab American Institute. “We have been working to get a checkbox to get better data about our community for decades.”
In addition to the increased splintering and categorization of minority groups, the proposals also call for eliminating several terms that far-left activists consider to be “outdated,” such as “Far East” and the use of the words “minority” and “majority.” The new proposal, the group claims in their outline, would be “respectful of how people refer to themselves.”
The group’s goal is to see that “the standards better reflect the diversity of the American people,” said Karin Orvis, U.S. chief statistician. “As we consider these recommendations, we want to hear directly from the American people.”
The public has until mid-April to submit public comment on the proposals, which the working group emphasized are only preliminary at this time.