Rally demands citizenship question remain off the 2020 census

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PASSAIC -

People who want a question about American citizenship to remain off the 2020 census held a rally in Passaic Monday.

The question about citizenship status has not been on the census questionnaire since 1950. But the Trump administration has asked for the question to be reinstated – a request that has been denied by three federal judges.

New Jersey residents illegally living in the United States say that they should be counted in the 2020 census, but a question about citizenship makes them nervous.

There are about 500,000 undocumented immigrants living in New Jersey.

RELATED: Paterson mayor wants to increase participation in city census 
RELATED: Census question on citizenship sparks outrage among New Jersey leaders 

Alberta Jimenez is a mother of six who works in a Passaic County factory. She is not a legal citizen. Through a translator, Jimenez says, “That is the biggest fear we have, that the government will know where we are and will try to deport us.”

Paterson Mayor Andre Sayegh says his city can't afford to have an "under-count." The number of people tallied in the census determines how much federal funding cities receive for things like road repairs and schools.

“That's not necessarily the question whether or not somebody is a citizen. The question is to be counted or to not to be counted,” the mayor says.

Sayegh says that he wants to make sure Paterson residents open their doors for the census takers when they come to collect data a year from now. He says that the city is in the process of hiring people who are bilingual and of the same ethnicity as those living in neighborhoods in which they'll be working.

"If we don't have the proper count, we are talking about millions. And if we don't do that, we are going to be left behind,” says Deputy Passaic Mayor Miguel Diaz.

The census also determines how many congressional seats each state receives.

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