proposed to create a new racial classification of "MENA" for Middle East and North Africans.
On Friday, the White House Office of Management and Budget advanced the proposal with a notice in the Federal Register, seeking comments on whether to add Middle Eastern and North African as a separate racial or ethnic category, which groups would be included, and what it should be called.
Under the proposal, the new Middle East and North African designation – or MENA, as it's called by population scholars – is broader in concept than Arab (an ethnicity) or Muslim (a religion). It would include anyone from a region of the world stretching from Morocco to Iran, and including Syrian and Coptic Christians, Israeli Jews and other religious minorities.
This new classification is not being debated in Congress for Congress to vote on it. It is done by an agency regulation that bypasses Congress, which fits the Obama pattern of rule by agency regulation and executive orders. Congress can act only after the regulation is adopted to rescind it, but this happens infrequently. Anyone adversely affected by this would have to file suit to prove that the regulation is unreasonable.