Leaders across Rhode Island raise concerns about 2020 census

April 2, 2018

CENTRAL FALLS, R.I. (AP) — Community and state leaders are raising concerns about the 2020 census.

Mayors from Providence, Pawtucket and Central Falls, Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo and groups such as Common Cause said Monday they’re concerned about how a test of the census is being conducted in Providence County. They’re also raising the alarm about last week’s announcement that a question about citizenship would be added to the 2020 census.

They say adding a citizenship question will lead to fewer people filling out the census, which is required by the Constitution to count residents.

“Many people are wary of giving the government any personal information,” Central Falls Mayor James Diossa said.

Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza called the citizenship question reckless and unnecessary and said it was playing politics.

Diossa and Elorza, who are Democrats, want the federal government to drop the citizenship question and allocate more money to get the word out about the census test.

President Donald Trump’s administration announced last week that it would add a question about citizenship, saying the data would help the Department of Justice enforce the Voting Rights Act, which protects minority voting rights. The decision was immediately protested by immigrant rights groups, which contend the citizenship question would depress responses from immigrant communities, skewing the results of the census.

New York said it would lead a coalition of blue states in a lawsuit against the Republican president’s administration over the decision to include the citizenship question. New York state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, a Democrat, said a question asking residents about their citizenship statuses would create fear and mistrust in immigrant communities.

The Census Bureau hasn’t included a citizenship question in its once-a-decade survey sent to all U.S. households since 1950, before the Civil Rights era.

The census is used to determine the number of seats each state has in the House and how federal money is distributed to local communities. Communities and businesses depend on it in deciding where to build schools, hospitals, grocery stores and more.

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