Local leaders oppose census citizenship question

CENTRAL FALLS, RI (WLNE) –Local leaders expressed concern during a press conference in Central Falls on Monday regarding the 2020 census and the recent  announcement by the federal government to add a citizenship question.

"We’re concerned that steps are being taken to intentionally keep folks from being counted,” said Central Falls Mayor James Diossa.

"At best this is gross incompetence, at worst it’s being set up to fail,” said Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza.

The fear outlined from leaders during the press conference is that adding that question regarding citizenship will discourage people from filling out the survey. Here in Rhode Island, the implications of less people answering could mean the loss of a congressional seat and a cut in federal funding.

"More than a third of our state’s annual budget consists of federal dollars and many of our cities also receive federal community block grants directed. We stand to lose a lot,” said Diossa.

Leaders want to see the question removed, but if it does end up on the census they want to encourage Rhode Islanders not to be afraid of filling out the paperwork.

"The federal government does not have access to this information. And, so if you’re an immigrant and you’re undocumented and you’re concerned about the federal government knowing who you are the census will not have access to this information,” said Elorza.

Currently, Providence County residents are serving as a test site for the census. We should mention that a citizenship question is not included in this particular document, that was another concern addressed at Monday afternoon’s press conference.

(C) WLNE 2018