January 30, 2015, Washington, D.C. – In October of 2014, the U.S. Census Bureau announced it will test a new Middle Eastern or North African (MENA) ethnic category as part of its mid-decade research for possible inclusion in the 2020 Census. The Census Bureau is now soliciting public comments on the MENA question.
The federal register notice closes on Feb 2, 2015.
The MENA category is part of 2015 combined pilot test question on race and ethnicity where respondents have an opportunity to self-identify their race, ethnicity, or national origin. It will consist of a “Middle Eastern or North African” check box, following a space below for respondents to write in their specific ethnicity or origin. The test lists six examples including, Iranian, Egyptian, and Lebanese.
The Census Bureau’s working MENA classification includes individuals who have ethnic origins or descent, roots, or heritage from amongst 19 countries in the Middle East and North Africa. The Census Bureau decided to identify the 3 largest Middle Eastern groups and 3 largest North African groups to list as an example on the test write-in question. Individuals who write-in any variation of Iranian or Persian will be classified by the Census Bureau as individuals of Iranian ethnicity/origin.
Census figures are used as benchmarks for businesses, professional organizations, and government officials in determining how services are allocated. Having an accurate count of the Iranian American community will translate into increased influence and recognition within American society.
News of the MENA pilot test is a success for the Iranian American community, which has been trying to secure an accurate count of its community in the U.S. Census since 2010. A MENA category in the 2020 Census will increase the accuracy of ethnicity reporting as well as better reflect self-identity of respondents.
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Tell the Census Bureau that you support the MENA category in 2020 Census.
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