Counting Americans: A new Mideast box on census is sensitive – Chicago Tribune

Zahraa Ballout isn’t “white,” and she certainly isn’t “some other race.” If the government gives her the choice of checking a new “Middle East/North Africa” box on a census form, would she?

Yes, she says, despite some reservations about what it would mean to stand out after Americans elected a president who wants to ban travel from some countries in the region and has spoken favorably of registering Muslims in the U.S.

“I would feel some wariness because you don’t know exactly the consequences or what’s coming next after you check the box,” says 21-year-old Ballout, a student in Dearborn, Michigan, who’s been in the country three years. “I don’t want to fool myself to think that checking another box (other than the new one) is going to protect me in some way.”

Ballou’s risk-benefit analysis reflects a new caution surrounding the way the U.S. government counts Americans, an every-decade exercise mandated in the Constitution that influences the nation’s day-to-day operations in ways big and small. That includes representation in Congress and how taxpayer money is doled out — for education, public health, transportation and more.

Counting Americans: A new Mideast box on census is sensitive – Chicago Tribune}

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