Sunday, May 19, 2024

Biden Administration Proposes New Census to Help Identify Latinos and Hispanics

The Biden Administration is working on updating census forms to update how it identifies Americans’ race and ethnicity for official use. The administration is collecting publican feedback on its Jan. 27 proposal to change the choice for people who identify as Hispanic or Latino or a version of those. For the next census in 2030, many Americans could have many more specific options to select from.

The federal government has been struggling for decades with how to capture the complexity of the increasing population of people with Latino or Hispanic roots. The disproportionate impact of the pandemic on communities of color and the lack of data from some states to show their rates of illness, hospitalizations, vaccinations, and deaths demonstrated the need for precision in gathering such information.

The Biden administration’s Office of Management and Budget is proposing to ask people, “What is your race or ethnicity?” and follow that with “Select all that apply.”

In a shortened question, there would be boxes to check next to the choices of “White,” “Hispanic or Latino,” “Black or African American,” “Asian,” “American Indian or Alaska Native,” “Middle Eastern or North African,” and “Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander.”

An alternative proposal is a longer question that provides detail under each choice. For example, after Hispanic or Latino, a respondent could check a box for Mexican or Mexican American, a box for Puerto Rican, and so on. A write-in box also is provided.

On the 2020 Census, people were asked first to select whether they are Hispanic or non-Hispanic, and for “yes” responses, of what origin: Mexican, Puerto Rican, etc. Then they were asked to pick their race, but Hispanic or Latino was outside those choices. About 26 million Hispanics, 42%, marked “some other race” on the census.

“People also get confused because they consider their Latino-ness to be their identity,” said Arturo Vargas, executive director of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials or NALEO.

Mark Hugo Lopez, director of race and ethnicity research at the Pew Research Center, explained that Hispanic or Latino is a race for some. For others, it is an identity derived from their countries, their ethnicity, and their families’ origins and not tied to race.

“Race and ethnicity are seen differently and viewed differently than it is here in the United States,” Lopez said. “One of the concerns with this particular change — is not only the identification of the racial and ethnic distribution among Latinos but also whether or not we might lose something in the counts of Hispanics.”

NBC News