Middle Eastern, North African category added to US census and federal government surveys


U.S. Census will include Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) Classification
The decision marks a major victory for nearly 4 million Arab Americans, who will no longer be classified as “White.”

Dearborn, Mich. – The next U.S. Census will include a new classification for Middle Eastern and North African populations as well as Latinos, a Biden administration decision that marks a major victory for an Arab American community that has spent decades organizing and advocating to be counted.
“This is a huge and historic victory for civil rights and human rights in America,” said Rima Meroueh, director of NNAAC. “For years, Arab Americans have been underrepresented and underserved in our own country, because we literally don’t count. Those days are over. After a decades-long fight, our voices will finally be heard.”
The National Network for Arab American Communities (NNAAC) has advocated for decades to create a new category in the U.S. Census to include people from the Middle East or North Africa. Currently, the U.S. government defines people of Middle Eastern and North African origin as white. This is not only inaccurate but dilutes opinions and data on white Americans by folding Arab Americans into their data classification, distorting the entire U.S. political picture.
The Office Management and Budget (OMB) has announced a revised data collection policy that will mandate that all federal agencies begin collecting data on the MENA category for the 2030 U.S. Census and future federal forms. Having accurate data on MENA subgroups means expanding equity and access across public and private sectors, and an opportunity to provide better access to healthcare and education. Since the US legal system relies upon data to determine civil rights cases, data on MENA subgroups can also expand the scope of civil rights enforcement and protections to include Arab Americans.
“This is a major victory in our quest for a MENA category in the halls of government,” continued Meroueh. “We look forward to continuing our work with the OMB to refine and improve the MENA category to be the most representative of people from the Middle East or North African region and enhance our census data.”