Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz, a Democrat, fired off a series of tweets Wednesday morning criticizing the Trump Administration's plan to include a question about citizenship on the 2020 U.S. Census.
I am very concerned about @POTUS attempt to include a citizenship question in the next census and the impact it will have on obtaining an accurate census in Erie County. My administration is already laying the groundwork so all residents are counted. 1/2 https://t.co/r5gMNuWnga
— Mark Poloncarz (@markpoloncarz) March 28, 2018
The county executive goes on to say, "Erie County is the home to thousands of non-citizens who are legally in our country - legal immigrants and guests. The Constitution requires their counting, but this new question could result in most being uncounted. That is unacceptable."
County Executive Poloncarz also commended New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, a fellow Democrat, for his plan to lead a multistate lawsuit to block the inclusion of that question in the next census.
So far, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Washington plan to join New York in that effort. The State of California filed a separate lawsuit.
Schneiderman expressed concern that including a question about citizenship would "create an environment of fear and distrust in immigrant communities".
The Census Bureau, by law, is not allowed to share identifying information with any government entity, including the Federal Bureau of Investigations.
The Constitution requires the census account for all residents, regardless of citizenship. It gathers information about everyone who lives in the country.
— Josh Bazan (@JoshBazan) March 28, 2018
According to CNN, anyone who "refuses or willfully neglects...to answer, to the best of his knowledge, any of the questions" could be fined up to $100, and anyone who answers falsely could face fines up to $500.
The Commerce Department, which oversees the Census Bureau, announced Monday it would reinstate a question about citizenship on the decennial census for the first time since 1950. This comes after a request by the Department of Justice to include such a question in order to enforce the 1965 Voting Rights Act.
You can read the full seven-page announcement to include the question from Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross here.