The White House wants to add a new racial category to the US census

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The White House wants a new racial category for people from the Middle East and North Africa.

Right now, people from that area of the world are considered white, according to U.S. census data. If the proposal is approved, a new racial category could be on government forms as early as 2020.

SEE MORE: Why Many Arab-Americans Check 'White' On The US Census

The new category would be called MENA and would cover people from countries in those two regions.

The move is over 70 years in the making. In 1944, the U.S government designated MENA Americans as "white." At the time, it was thought of as a good thing; until 1952 only people considered white could become citizens.

RELATED: See where immigrants are moving to

Cities immigrants are moving to (BI)
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Cities immigrants are moving to (BI)

Miami/Fort Lauderdale/West Palm Beach, Florida

Net international migration: 335,637

2014 population: 5,937,100

Percent change: 5.7

Ithaca, New York

Net international migration: XX

2014 population: XX

Percent change: 5.6

San Jose/Sunnyvale/Santa Clara, California

Net international migration: 92,657

2014 population: 1,954,348

Percent change: 4.7

Manhattan, Kansas

Net international migration: 4,187

2014 population: 97,524

Percent change: 4.3

Ames, Iowa

Net international migration: 4,072

2014 population: 95,456

Percent change: 4.3

Jacksonville, North Carolina

Net international migration: 7,840

2014 population: 185,267

Percent change: 4.2

Urbana-Champaign, Illinois

Net international migration: 9,997

2014 population: 237,579

Percent change: 4.2

Lafayette, Indiana

Net international migration: 8,238

2014 population: 212,271

Percent change: 3.9

New York City/Newark/Jersey City, New York and New Jersey

Net international migration: 773,841

2014 population: 20,095,119

Percent change: 2.9

Honolulu, Hawaii

Net international migration: 36,923

2014 population: 992,082

Percent change: 3.7


But then the designation became troublesome. The MENA American population grew and became more diverse, but a unique identity didn't come along with all of that.

Right now, the U.S. government doesn't actually know how many MENA Americans live in the states.

Many believe the additional category would help curb discrimination in the workplace and in obtaining housing, grants and loans. But critics have said it's just a way for the government to further target and monitor certain groups of people.

Some have even suggested the move would make Islamophobia in the states even worse. A professor at the University of Detroit said he thinks "individuals who might identify might not check the box for fear of retribution — especially if [Donald] Trump wins."

Another issue here is some MENA Americans don't want the separate classification. A majority of the Middle Eastern population in the U.S. identifies as Christian and wants to continue to identify as white.

The U.S. Census Bureau also wants to find a way to include people of Turkish, Sudanese and Somali heritage in the upcoming census.

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