2020 Census (277708)
Credit: NNPA/NAACP photo

Immigrant rights organization Make the Road New Jersey and the mayors of Passaic and Paterson, N.J., are demanding the citizenship question be removed from the 2020 U.S. Census.

On Tuesday, April 23, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments on the addition of a citizenship question to the 2020 census. The plaintiffs included American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, CASA, ADC Research Institute, Make the Road and the New York Immigration Coalition, as well as states and cities from around the country. Advocates called for the citizenship question to be stricken and for New Jersey to invest in a complete count.

Advocates say a complete count is crucial to billions of dollars of funding for key services and political representation in New Jersey. They say the citizenship question threatens the complete count and is a racist and xenophobic move by the administration targetting immigrant and low income communities. Currently, Senator Nilsa Cruz-Perez and Assemblywoman Yvonne Lopez have proposed a budget resolution to fund census outreach efforts in the Garden State.

“This is a critical issue—the stakes are so high for us,” said Paterson Mayor Andre Sayegh in a published interview. “We have to get it right. If we don’t — what happens? We will have to wait 10 more years.”

Make the Road New Jersey held a press conference on Monday at Passaic City Hall to oppose the citizenship question and urge the state to invest in the census complete count efforts. Immigrant families joined officials at the press conference.

“A lot of our community members will not register, will not sign up for the census,” said Elizabeth Chabla, a community organizer.

According to the American Immigration Council, 2 million immigrants comprise 22.1 percent of New Jersey’s population. More than a half-million U.S. citizens in New Jersey live with at least one family member who is undocumented. Immigrant workers make up almost 30 percent of the labor force in New Jersey.