Commerce Considers Labeling Arab Americans a Disadvantaged Minority

Rachel Leven, The Hill, May 29, 2012

The Commerce Department is considering naming Arab Americans a socially and economically disadvantaged minority group that is eligible for special business assistance.

The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) petitioned Commerce earlier this year to ask that Arab Americans be made eligible for the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA), which helps minority entrepreneurs gain access to capital, contracts and trade opportunities.

The ADC petition cited “discrimination and prejudice in American society[,] resulting in conditions under which Arab-American individuals have been unable to compete in a business world.” The group claimed discrimination against Arab Americans increased after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

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Commerce is asking for comment about whether there is social and economic discrimination against Arab Americans, along with examples of it occurring. The MBDA will decide whether or not to accept the petition by June 27.

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MBDA services are now offered to African-Americans, Puerto Ricans, Spanish-speaking Americans, American Indians, Eskimos, Aleuts, Hasidic Jews, Asian-Pacific Americans and Asian Indians.

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