Law & the Courts

Stop the Balkanization

Last fall I wrote about some disturbing changes that the Obama administration wanted to make in the data gathered for the census. A short 30-day window was given for public comments, but thankfully the Trump administration seems to have misgivings about the proposed changes. And so it has asked for more public comments (via the White House website no less), and extended the deadline to the end of this month.

Mike Gonzalez of the Heritage Foundation has done yeoman’s work on this matter. I quoted his issue brief last fall: “The two most significant proposals [are] creating a new ethno/racial group for people who originate from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) and taking from those who identify as Hispanic the option to identify their race.” In the introductory part of the formal comment he has now submitted, he explains:

The proposals would affect our nation adversely in at least three ways: (1) adding one more ethnic group [i.e., MENA] would further sub-divide America along ethnic lines and take another step to transform the U.S. into what the Founders never intended, a nation of groups; (2) creating a Hispanic race would deepen these fractures and threaten to make them permanent; and (3) dangling purported advantages such as congressional redistricting would further help perpetuate divisions within the country by giving people an incentive to identify themselves as a member of a subnational group and a disincentive to build inter-ethnic coalitions.

My organization, the Center for Equal Opportunity, has endorsed Mike’s comment, adding:

[I]n addition to the problems associated with congressional redistricting, the balkanization and encouragement of race-based decisionmaking inherent in the Census proposal [are] also bad with regard to the Voting Rights Act generally, and with respect to broadened “affirmative action” (i.e., preferential treatment on the basis of race), race-based student assignments at the K-12 level, and the “disparate impact” approach to civil-rights enforcement.

Comments are due by April 30, which is a Sunday, so better to send them in by the preceding Friday, April 28. I would encourage interested individuals and groups to go to this link, click on “comment now” in the right-hand column, endorse Mr. Gonzalez’s comment, and make whatever additional points they’d like.

 

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