NEW YORK (FOX5NY.COM) - New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is vowing to sue the Trump administration over its decision to add a citizenship box on the 2020 Census. The AG's office says the move "will create an environment of fear and distrust in immigrant communities" that will deter their participation in the census in violation of the Constitution's mandate that everyone be counted.
Rep. Carolyn Maloney, a Democrat who represents parts of New York City, said the effects could be massive.
"If a population is undercounted, then you will lose accurate funding levels, you will lose accurate representation on both the federal, city, and state level," she said. "It's critically important."
And that is why, with the state's high immigrant population, Gov. Andrew Cuomo is calling the new citizenship question "a gross political act that launches a missile at the heart of New York."
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross announced the change late Monday night, just days before the deadline to get the 2020 Census questions to Congress. The White House is defending his decision.
"This is a question that's been included in every Census since 1965 with the exception of 2010," Sarah Huckabee Sanders said.
Except that is not true. While the citizenship question remained on sample surveys, the full Census form hasn't included it since 1950.
In January, former Census Bureau directors who have served in Republican and Democratic administrations warned Ross that a citizenship question could put the Census's accuracy at grave risk if not first tested for several years.
Maloney is hoping to turn that condition into law with a bill called the Idea Act.
"It would require that any questions added to the Census should be tested for three years," she said. "They should be examined, they should be accurate, they should be part of a thoughtful process."
But with Congress pretty much finished passing bills before November's elections, the real action on this will be in the courts. California's attorney general has already filed suit. And Schneiderman is expected to file his multistate lawsuit once the Trump administration formally submits its questions to Congress.