Erie County Executive "very concerned" about citizenship question on U.S. Census

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) - 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.

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.

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.

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