Is Census Data Being Used To Track Arabs?

The Department of Homeland Security says, “no,” but they did get a special tabulation from the Census Bureau according to BugMeNot).

The Census Bureau has provided specially tabulated population statistics on Arab-Americans to the Department of Homeland Security, including detailed information on how many people of Arab backgrounds live in certain ZIP codes.

The assistance is legal, but civil liberties groups and Arab-American advocacy organizations say it is a dangerous breach of public trust and liken it to the Census Bureau’s compilation of similar information about Japanese-Americans during World War II.

The tabulations were produced in August 2002 and December 2003 in response to requests from what is now the Customs and Border Protection division of the Department of Homeland Security. One set listed cities with more than 1,000 Arab-Americans. The second, far more detailed, provided ZIP-code-level breakdowns of Arab-American populations, sorted by country of origin. The categories provided were Egyptian, Iraqi, Jordanian, Lebanese, Moroccan, Palestinian, Syrian and two general categories, “Arab/Arabic” and “Other Arab.”The WWII data sharing issue was a serious black eye for the Census Bureau for decades and had a serious impact on the Bureau’s ability to get cooperation from a variety of minority groups, such as Latino’s who feared INS would use the data. Arab-American (and other minoritiy) participation in the 2010 Census could be severly damaged by these revalations.

If you look at the Census Public Information Office minority information web page you’ll note that this information is not generally available.

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  1. Laurence Simon July 30, 2004