Arab-Americans as proposed special class in 2020 Census; would gain political influence, access to public money

A possible move to create a separate census classification for people of Middle Eastern and North African descent starting in the 2020 Census could give Arab-Americans more political influence and access to public money, according to The Associated Press.

The Census Bureau plans to test the concept with a focus group later this year.

“We know the challenges,” said Hassan Jaber, who serves on a census advisory board. “It really does take rethinking … who we are as a population and what our needs are. There are specific needs for Arab-Americans that are not being recognized and not being met.

Hassan Jaber
Hassan Jaber. Photo credit AP Photo/Paul Sancya via the Concord Monitor.

Jeff Karoub of the Associated Press reported the following:

Arabs have been coming to America in large numbers since the late 19th century and their ranks have grown in recent decades due to wars and political instability in the Middle East, with many settling in and around Detroit, New York and Los Angeles. The Census Bureau’s 2013 American Community Survey, which had a sample size of about 3 million addresses, estimated that 1.5 million people were of Arab ancestry in 2006-10.

Not all those of Middle-Eastern descent think the change is a good idea. Some fear identifying their ethnic background on a government form in the age of the war on terror, the AP reported.

“I’m not for it. I feel I’m a Mayflower American,” said Eide Alawan, who is of Syrian descent. “We’re broken down into villages and countries [where we come from]. I don’t like that.”

Even if the Census Bureau recommends the new category, the change would have to be approved by Congress.


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