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Planned Middle East-North Africa census category progresses

April 22, 2015

DETROIT (AP) — A proposal to allow those of Middle Eastern and North American descent to identify as such on the next 10-year census has cleared another hurdle.

Census advisory board member Hassan Jaber said Wednesday the U.S. Census Bureau plans to convene a conference of experts next month to define the Middle East-North Africa classification. They also will determine the technical aspects of testing it with community members through questionnaires.

The proposed classification for 2020 would allow self-identification for people of the many races, ancestries and nationalities under that geographic banner. Advocates have long sought the change, which needs congressional approval.

Jaber says an online public comment period was overwhelmingly positive.

Although many Middle Eastern-Americans support the proposal, some are wary about sharing information with the government in a post-9/11 world.

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