Encouragingly, the Trump Administration missed a deadline to approve two Obama Administration initiatives to alter the race and ethnicity categories on the 2020 Census, including carving a wholly new Middle Eastern & North African racial group out of the White category.
I’ve been asking questions about how the MENA category would work for several years.
For example, would Armenians no longer be white?
Would Jews born in Israel no longer be white?
What about Ashkenazi Jews? Would they no longer be white?
What about Israeli Ashkenazis such as Google Guy Sergey Brin? Is he white or MENA?
I’ve never found any official answers to these questions.
Similarly, what will be the effect on affirmative action? Will Israelis, Armenians, Lebanese, etc. be eligible for set-asides and quotas? Keep in mind that there is both active affirmative action, the way Indian and Chinese immigrants have legislation granting them cheap Minority Development Loans and government contracting set-asides (which is why South Asians successfully demand to stop being white in 1982 and get lumped in with East Asians).
But there are also defensive quotas quietly imposed by employers to avoid being sued for disproportionate representation. A concept that very few white people grasp is that to sue for disparate impact you need a count of how many people in your group there are. Right now, Middle Easterners are just lumped in with whites in general so the government doesn’t have a count of how many of them there are to use in adverse impact bias lawsuits.
Would it be a good for the American people to create a MENA category (and do the Hispanic change) that the Obama Administration proposed.
I don’t know.
I do know that most of the groups favoring these changes do not have the American people’s best interests at heart but are ethnic grabbers, so I doubt if either Census change is a good idea. But it’s hard to project.
The simplest thing for the Trump Administration to do for these categories on the 2020 Census is not to do anything. Save the money and time and keep the results so they can be easily matched up with the 2010 Census. If somebody can come up with good justifications for these changes, implement them in 2030. But until somebody can answer simple questions, it’s best to assume they are scams.
December 2, 20178:15 AM ET
Hansi Lo Wang
A major decision on the way the U.S. government collects information about race and ethnicity through the census and other surveys was expected to be announced this week by the Trump administration.
But the White House’s Office of Management and Budget, which sets standards for this type of data for all federal agencies, was silent on Friday, which OMB had said was the deadline for an announcement.
A spokesperson for OMB could not provide any information about the delay.
Under consideration by the White House are proposals introduced during the Obama administration that would fundamentally change how the government counts the Latino population. Another proposal would create a new checkbox on census forms and other federal surveys for people with roots in the Middle East or North Africa. If approved, the policy changes could have significant implications on the upcoming 2020 census, as well as legislative redistricting, civil rights laws and health statistics.
… First issued as a White House Office of Management and Budget directive in 1977, the federal standards on race and ethnicity data largely have stayed the same for the past two decades. The last major revisions were announced in 1997, when the Clinton administration decided to allow recipients of the census and other federal surveys to check boxes for more than one race.
… An announcement by early spring would help the Census Bureau prepare its report to Congress on the final wording of the 2020 census questions. That report is due by the end of March 2018….
“The later the decision is released, the more uncertainty continues as far as how the census is going to proceed with its format for collection of race and ethnicity data for 2020,” says Arturo Vargas, executive director of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials Educational Fund, which supports the proposals to change the standards.
What do you think the odds are that the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials Educational Fund has the best interests of the American people at heart?
“Given all the moving pieces and all the uncertainty about funding and leadership [at the Census Bureau], it doesn’t help when there’s uncertainty with this major part of data collection.”
The most certainty would come from not making any changes.
The White House could decide to reject the proposals and keep the status quo — or propose different changes to the standards for race and ethnicity data. But Cary Coglianese, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania Law School who directs the Penn Program on Regulation, says any decision would be limited by the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
“To the extent that an administration were to show racial animus and to make decisions about the statistical classification or the questions on surveys that relate to race in a manner that was motivated by racial animus, that would be clearly illegal and unconstitutional,” Coglianese says.