Anthony Portantino (California State Senate, 2022)

Senator Portantino and Senate Select Committee Members Urge Biden Administration to Include Armenian-American Representation in Census

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Senator Anthony J. Portantino (D – Burbank) led efforts during the second week of April to submit a letter to the White House urging President Biden to address the exclusion of Armenian Americans from the Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) checkbox in the US census.

“I am deeply concerned that hundreds of thousands of Armenian Americans were excluded from the MENA checkbox,” stated Senator Portantino. “Excluding an entire segment of the population in the census has serious repercussions for equality, justice, and democracy. Armenian Americans have a rich and vibrant history in the United States, and especially in the 25th Senate District. They have made significant contributions to the cultural, economic, and social fabric of our state and nation. It is imperative that they are accurately counted and represented in the census to ensure fair allocation of resources and equitable representation.”

On March 29, the Office of Management and Budget announced revisions to Statistical Policy Directive No. 15: Standards or Maintaining, Collecting, and Presenting Federal Data on Race and Ethnicity (SPD 15). Although the notice is intended to yield a more accurate census of people with Hispanic, Middle Eastern and North African heritage, Armenian Americans were excluded from the new Middle Eastern and North African Category.

“California is home to the largest population of Armenian Americans in the nation. Excluding them from the census fails to acknowledge the atrocities their people have faced, and diminishes their ability to be represented. I strongly urge the Biden Administration to right this wrong,” stated Senator Scott Wilk (R-Santa Clarita).

The letter, also signed by Senators Archuleta, Durazo, Wilk, Stern, and Menjivar, urges the Office of Management and Budget to rectify the oversight and to ensure that Armenian Americans have a presence in the census. Senator Portantino chairs Senate Select Committee on California, Armenia, and Artsakh Mutual Trade, Art, and Cultural Exchange.

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