(NBC News) The Commerce Department announced Monday that the 2020 U.S. Census will ask people if they are an American citizen.
The Constitution says the census must get an accurate count of everyone in the country, but critics worry that with the new question, that can't happen if some people are too scared to answer.
The Trump administration says the move was requested by the Justice Department to help protect the rights of voters, but critics say it's politically motivated.
"There is a very serious legitimate fear that census itself could end up being a very inaccurate count," said Vanita Gupta, president of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.
It could have a big impact on states with the largest immigrant populations, affecting everything from federal funding to representation in Congress.
The state of California is suing to stop it.
Census takers have been asked about citizenship as part of the American community survey, but it has not been on the main census since 1950.
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