- Recommendations from the Office of Management and Budget include new categories for the US census.
- It includes categories for people from the Middle East and North Africa previously considered white.
- Proponents have been fighting for these changes for years on the undercount issue.
The Biden administration is pushing for changes to how census data on race and ethnicity is collected, including for people from the Middle East and North Africa.
The proposed changes come after years of reviewing how the US Census Bureau collects its data. Last year, President Joe Biden continued the review effort after former President Donald Trump’s administration blocked decisions on implementing proposed changes to the 2020 census, NPR reported.
Proposals released Thursday by the Office of Management and Budget on its race and ethnicity statistical standards show, among other changes, a “new and distinct minimum reporting category” for people in the MENA region. , which are classified as white under current data collection standards, which were set in 1997.
The proposal would also change the definition of white to only include people of European descent.
The document notes that officials advocated for this new category because “many members of the MENA community do not share the same lived experience as white people of European descent, do not identify as white, and are not perceived as White by others”.
The new MENA category would also help allocate resources to these groups, the document notes.
A MENA category was supposed to be added to the 2020 census, but the bureau announced in 2018 that this would no longer be the case until further research into the categories was carried out.
The groups have long advocated for a separate MENA category in the census to combat under-reporting by Middle Eastern and North African groups, whose numbers are obscured in the broader definition of “white” and who may be reluctant to tick the “white” category based on their personal data. identification.
Another major change in the proposal would be the addition of “Hispanic or Latino” in the race category, and the addition of more specific ethnic categories, such as Colombian, that people can fill out on the form. Some presenters on the OMB task force, however, disagreed with this proposal, saying it would lead to an undercount of Latinos who identified with other races, such as Afro-Latinos.
Other proposed changes to race and ethnicity data collection include removing “Negro” from the definition of Black or African American, replacing “Far Eastern” with “East Asian and the addition of North, South and Central American Native Americans to the definition of American Indian or Alaska Native.
The group also proposed deleting the terms majority and minority to refer to whites and people of color respectively.
The OMB will not make a final decision on the proposals until the summer of 2024, but is currently seeking public comment on the proposal.
The White House did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.