Rebecca FernandezMar 1, 2018, 1:48 pm

Immigrant advocates fight to keep off citizenship status question off 2020 census ballot

Groups say inquiry may cause fear of deportation among immigrant communities on Long Island


BRENTWOOD — Residents who live in the United States will be filling out a census ballot at some point to help the government learn more about who they are as a nation and how the economy is doing.

The ballot asks things like a resident’s age and race, but it doesn't ask a person’s citizenship status. This is a question which the U.S. Dept. of Justice wants to change for the next census in 2020.

However, groups like Make the Road New York and the Long Island Progressive Coalition are going against this new request. They argue that this question would negatively impact the immigrant communities.

"Everyone that we've spoken to has been upset about this proposal,” says Daniel Altschuler of Make The Road New York. “They know that it is just another attempt to intimidate and try to invoke fear in the hearts of members of the immigrant community and members, frankly, of diverse communities across Long Island and across New York and across the country."

Over 16 different organizations wrote a letter to the Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross to ask him to reject this new question. They explained that it would cause fear of deportation and would ultimately bring down the census response rates since most immigrants will refuse to respond. This in turn, they added, would then have a direct effect on the results.

Altschuler says Make The Road New York has not yet receive a response in regards to the letter.

There is still a possibility, however, that it could not be included because the census bureau has until March 31 to submit a final list of questions to Congress.

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