After a heated debate over a proposal by the U.S. Census Bureau to reclassify Latinos as a race, Hispanic groups said they are working with the federal agency to figure out whether changes are necessary or not.
The proposal, which would eliminate the need for Hispanics to pick between two races (white or black), drew the ire of groups who insist Hispanics are an ethnicity, not a race. The proposed changes, which were announced last August but would take effect in the 2020 Census, would also end the use of the term "Negro," and offer new ways to identify Middle Easterners.
Angelo Falcon, president of the National Institute for Latino Policy in New York City and a community adviser to the Census, says his group has begun to reach out to various organizations and civil rights groups.
"The idea is to bring these people together," Falcon told Fox News Latino, adding that he thinks the U.S. Census Bureau should base its decision on research. "We want to make sure we have our research [and include] the community and the [think tank] Pew Hispanic Center."
The recommendations to change U.S. Census forms stem from new government research on the best ways to count the nation's demographic groups. But it has faced resistance from some racial and ethnic groups which worry that any kind of wording changes in the high-stakes government count could yield a lower tally for them.
The research is based on an experiment conducted during the 2010 census in which nearly 500,000 households were given forms with the race and ethnicity questions worded differently.
Stacy Gimbel Vidal, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Census Bureau, said the bureau is actively working on the "implementation of the 2010 alternative questionnaire experiment research."
"Many racial and ethnic communities and leaders have been consulted with throughout the design and implementation of the 2010 alternative questionnaire experiment research," she wrote in an e-mail. "This is a part of a continuing process in which we seek feedback from the public and stakeholders openly and uniformly."
The findings show that many people who filled out the traditional form did not feel they fit within the five government-defined categories of race: white, black, Asian, Pacific Islander and American Indian/Alaska Native.
When questions were altered to address this concern, response rates and accuracy improved notably, she said.
Falcon said this is the first time the Census has tried to experiment with how they classify Latinos - and the proposal was the first step in that direction.
"I'm finding many Latino researchers have a problem with that," he said.
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SOURCE: FOX News Latino