The U.S. Commerce Department is considering a petition to include Arab Americans on the list of socially and economically disadvantaged minority groups eligible for special business assistance.
The petition was submitted earlier this year by the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) to make Arab Americans eligible for the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA). The MBDA helps minority entrepreneurs establish and grow their businesses.
According to the ADC petition there has been an increase since 9/11 in "discrimination and prejudice in American society resulting in conditions under which Arab-American individuals have been unable to compete in a business world."
To support its claims, the ADC's petition emphasized the National Security Entry Exit Registration System, "which required non-immigrants to register at ports of entry and targeted males from Arab nations; stricter travel guidelines; and 'no-fly lists' that predominantly contained the names of Arab-Americans."
What the ADC petition ignored, however, were facts showing Arab Americans were more successful and better educated than the average American. Data from the U.S. Census Bureau from 2007-2009 showed that the mean individual income for Arab Americans was 27 percent higher than the national average and the percentage of Arab Americans with a bachelor's degree or higher was 45 percent compared to 28 percent for Americans at large.
The Department of Commerce is investigating whether there is social and economic discrimination against Arab Americans and is seeking examples. The MBDA is scheduled to decide on the matter by June 27.
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.