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Middle Eastern and North African residents in Chicago feel excluded by upcoming census

By Whitney Tesi
Medill Reports

Middle Eastern and North African communities have been lobbying for their own category on the census for decades, even though they have been classified as “white” since the government first started conducting the survey in 1790.

Although the idea for a Middle Eastern and North African category for this year’s census was considered under the Obama Administration, the plan was shot down two years ago after President Donald Trump was elected.

“More research and testing is needed,” Karen Battle, chief of the U.S. Census Bureau’s population division, said in a public meeting last year.

Many community advocates said they were disappointed in the decision, saying the exclusion of the option ignores the challenges that Middle Eastern and North African people face as a marginalized group.

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