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Community News,
Civil Rights

Apr. 25, 2024

Arab American lawyer groups discuss desire for Census change

The picks meet the president's usual pattern of choosing women while emphasizing diversity both in racial background and professional experience.

From left, Joumana Silyan-Saba, Shukry Cattan, Andrew Beshai, Rasha Gerges Shields. Joumana Silyan-Saba, director of policy discrimination enforcement with the L.A. Civil Rights Department, moderates a panel discussion on the implications of a MENA census category for Arab Americans.

Joumana Silyan-Saba, director of policy discrimination enforcement with the L.A. Civil Rights Department, moderated a panel discussion on Tuesday at the House of Lebanon about the implications of a new Census category for Middle Eastern or North African individuals. The panel was organized by the Arab American Lawyers Association of Southern California for Arab American Heritage Month.

Speakers discussed the challenges of collecting accurate data on Arab Americans for representation and resource allocation in the absence of a MENA designation. Without such a category, Arab Americans tend to check a box for the white category or "other."

"And the reason why this is so important, especially right now, and maybe in the past 10 years, is we've seen so many refugees come to the United States from the Middle East, who have Iraqi, Syrian, Lebanese, Iranians, and the flow of refugees and resettlement is ongoing," Shukry Cattan said.

"And the reason why it's difficult sometimes to continue to support these communities is, it's hard to inform the government that we still need resources for them because for them, they feel like this is not a community that is large enough to invest more money into," he continued. Cattan is executive director of Orange County for the Tiyya Foundation.


Antoine Abou-Diwan

Daily Journal Staff Writer

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