The U.S. Department of Commerce announced late Monday that it will include a question about citizenship status on the 2020 Census.
The move has critics warning that the citizenship status will result in an undercount for the census, which is conducted every 10 years and used to determine which states gain and lose seats in the House of Representatives as well as their votes in the Electoral College.
The Commerce Department said in a statement that the citizenship question will be included after a request to reinstate the question was handed down by the Department of Justice.
“Having citizenship data at the census block level will permit more effective enforcement of the [Voting Rights Act], and Secretary [Wilbur] Ross determined that obtaining complete and accurate information to meet this legitimate government purpose outweighed the limited potential adverse impacts,” the department said in a statement.
The inclusion of a citizenship question almost immediately invited challenges. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said he was filing a lawsuit against President Donald Trump‘s administration, saying on Twitter: “Including the question is not just a bad idea—it is illegal.”
#BREAKING: Filing suit against @realdonaldtrump's Administration over decision to add #citizenship question on #2020Census. Including the question is not just a bad idea — it is illegal: https://t.co/vW8sa7khq9
— Xavier Becerra (@AGBecerra) March 27, 2018
With Trump’s controversial rhetoric surrounding immigration in the United States, the New York Times points out that it could cause undocumented immigrants not to respond to the Census, resulting in an inaccurate counting of people within specific states and communities.
Concerns about the Census counting LGBTQ people and communities of color have already been raised by critics because of insufficient funding being allocated by the Trump administration toward the program.