MENA population may be redesignated in Environmental Justice bill.


By Simon Albaugh – Yemeni American News

Washington D.C. – In the Environmental Justice for All Act, Representatives Rashida Tlaib and Debbie Dingell of Michigan both agreed that the bill needed to recognize Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) populations as their own distinct group.

An amendment to the Environmental Justice for All Act is seen as another major stepping stone in shifting the demographic designation of MENA populations. Led by Tlaib and Dingell, their amendment, introduced last week, acknowledges the major challenges that are uniquely experienced in the environments of MENA communities.

“This amendment would recognize Middle Eastern and North African individuals as a community of color instead of their previous categorization of white,” reads a press release. “Inclusion of this amendment is essential to give MENA a voice. Pollution greatly impacts this community across the nation – especially in Rep. Debbie Dingell’s and Rep. Rashida Tlaib’s respective districts. MENA inclusion is a significant boon for environmental justice.”

Back in Michigan, Maha Freij, president and CEO of the Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services, applauded the proposed amendment that would redesignate MENA populations in the Environmental Justice for All Act.

“Thank you, Rep. Debbie Dingell and Rep. Rashida Tlaib, for offering an amendment to the Environmental Justice for All Act that recognizes Middle Eastern and North African Individuals as a community of color,” Freij said. “This is a bill for the people, created by the people, to ensure environmental justice for all – including MENA communities of color which are historically considered white.”

The Environmental Justice for All Act looks to establish environmental justice requirements, advisory bodies and programs to address the disproportionate adverse health effects for communities of color, low-income communities and tribal and indigenous communities stemming from federal laws.

Sponsored by Senator Tammy Duckworth of Illinois and Congressperson Raul M. Grijalva of Arizona, the Bill was first introduced in the House of Representatives and Senate on Mar. 18, 2021.