Federal officials are moving ahead with the most important potential changes in two decades in how the government asks Americans about their racial and Hispanic identity. They include combining separate race and Hispanic questions into one and adding a new Middle East-North Africa category.
If approved by the Office of Management and Budget, the revisions would be made on the 2020 census questionnaire and other federal government surveys or forms. Federal statistics about race and Hispanic identity are used to enforce civil rights laws, assist in political redistricting and provide data for research that compares the status of different groups.
The changes would be intended to improve the accuracy and reliability of race and ethnicity data by making it easier for people to answer questions about their identity, according to federal officials. Many people, especially Hispanics, Arabs and people of multiple origins, are unsure about how to categorize themselves on census questionnaires and other federal forms.