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Family farmers call for tougher CAFO regulations in Farm Bill; The Midwest and Northeast brace for record high temperature in heatwave; Financial-justice advocates criticize crypto regulation bill; Ohio advocates: New rules strengthen protections for sexual-assault victims.

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The RNC kicks off its election integrity effort, Democrats sound a warning bell about conservatives' Project 2025, and Republicans suggest funding cuts to jurisdictions with legal cases against Trump.

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As summer nears, America's newest and largest international dark sky sanctuary beckons, rural job growth is up, but full recovery remains elusive, rural Americans living in prison towns support a transition, while birth control is more readily available in rural areas.

New US race, ethnicity standards include Middle Eastern, North African

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Friday, April 12, 2024   

Until recently, many Americans of Middle Eastern or North African descent were categorized as "white" in government surveys, making it challenging to accurately quantify this population and assess its unique needs. But that is changing.

According to the Office of Management and Budget, the new category of "Middle Eastern and North African" or MENA aims to improve the quality of federal data on race and ethnicity.

Dearborn Mayor Abdullah Hammoud said it will be crucial for better understanding the diverse impacts on individuals, programs and services for people of the Arab community.

"We have been an integral part of the state since migration to the U.S. in the early 1800s in search for a destination that would better provide political, economic and religious freedom," he said. "And this month presents an opportunity to further build bridges between communities, and to shatter misconceived notions and stereotypes."

President Joe Biden highlighted the changes during his Arab American Heritage Month announcement, which is observed in April. He noted the addition of the new category for the 2030 Census and other forms, and emphasized its importance for better representation and policymaking.

These updates come amid criticism over Biden's handling of the Gaza conflict and efforts to appeal to Arab American voters.

Dearborn native Maya Berry, executive director of the Arab American Institute, said it's important that people of Middle Eastern and North African descent have an opportunity to be counted.

"One of the most deeply impactful ways that it's been negative," Berry said, "is that it views our communities as this existential 'other' - continuously foreign or 'otherized' in a way that's just not consistent with the history of our country, given we're all immigrants to this wonderful nation."

Until now, Berry said, Arab Americans were categorized the same as individuals of European descent -- a policy that could be seen as erasing their identity and overlooking the discrimination they have encountered.


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