WASHINGTON (CN) – An Arab-American civil rights group asked the Commerce Department’s Minority Business Development Agency to give Arab-Americans disadvantaged minority status, so they can get business help.
The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee petitioned for designation as “a minority group that is socially or economically disadvantaged,” so members of the Arab-American community may access the agency’s business centers that help minority entrepreneurs with writing business plans, marketing, management, financial planning and technical assistance.
The centers were created in 1971 by Then-President Richard Nixon, who also designated African-Americans, Puerto-Ricans, Spanish-speaking Americans, American Indians, Eskimos, and Aleuts as eligible minorities. Over the years, Hasidic Jews, Asian Pacific Americans and Asian Indians have been added to the list of groups designated as socially or economically disadvantaged.
According to the petition, Arab-Americans are subject to social and economic conditions “amounting to prejudice in American society and resulting in conditions under which Arab-American individuals have been unable to compete in a business world.”
Discrimination against Arabs has a long history in the United States, the petition says, ranging from the near total ban on immigration after the Quota Act was passed in 1910 to no-fly lists and profiling following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
The agency is requesting information on societal and economic discrimination faced by Arab-Americans.
Public comments are due by June 29.