SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – State Representative Abdelnasser Rashid’s legislation that will ensure the Middle East and North African (MENA) racial category is used on official state government forms, studies and reports is on its way to the Governor’s desk after passing the Illinois legislature. HB 3768 will make Illinois the first state to recognize Arab Americans and minority groups from the Middle East.

“I am proud to make history in Illinois and across the country with the passage of HB 3768,” said Rep. Rashid who made history last year as the first Palestinian-American elected to the Illinois State Legislature. “This information will help our state develop targeted policies that address the unique needs of the Arab American community, such as access to healthcare, education, and employment opportunities. Additionally, it will allow for a more comprehensive understanding of the experiences of Arabs and other groups from the Middle East and help to combat racism and prejudice.”

In Illinois and across the country, statistical racial data is used to understand different groups and communities and to inform programs, funding, and policy. However, Arab Americans are categorized as white, which has been a barrier to studying and addressing the unique challenges experienced by the Arab community. Furthermore, Arab Americans have historically been prevented from government benefits that come from minority status and other race-conscious policies. A recent study by the Institute for Research on Race and Public Policy at the University of Illinois Chicago shows that Arab Americans have lower household median incomes, higher rates of unemployment, and higher rates of being housing-cost-burdened compared to Chicagoland residents overall.

House Bill 3768 will address longstanding concerns of the Arab American community by ensuring that the MENA racial category is used on official state government forms, studies and reports. This paves the way for Arab Americans and other minorities from the Middle East to be counted, and equips institutions, advocates and policymakers with critical data to support the needs of these communities.

HB 3768 passed out of both the House and Senate unanimously and is on its way to Governor Pritzker’s desk.


Rep. Abdelnasser RashidRep. Abdelnasser Rashid

21st District

Springfield Office:
242A-W Stratton Office Building
Springfield, IL 62706
(217) 782-5280

District Office:

6901 W. Cermak Road,
Berwyn, IL 60402