Change to Census roils many immigrants

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WOODBURY -

Some immigrants say the addition of a question about citizenship status on the 2020 United States Census is a bullying tactic aimed at immigrant communities.

North Bay Shore resident Rodman Serrano, 23, says many of his relatives will not fill out of the form. Some of them are undocumented, and they fear that they could be targeted by authorities later on.

"People like my cousins, like my parents, will not participate, even though they've been living in this country for 20 years," he says.

Walter Barrientos, a local coordinator for the immigration advocacy group Make the Road NY, says since the Census helps determine how federal funds get distributed, boycotting it could mean communities receive less money for things like schools, hospitals and infrastructure.

"This could have dire impacts in many communities across Long Island where resources are already scarce," he says. "With fewer people counting themselves in the Census, it will mean that fewer resources could come."

Rep. Peter King, a Republican from Seaford, says he wants a guarantee from the Census Bureau that people will not be targeted just for answering the question.

"We have to make sure no action is going to be taken against someone who says they're not a citizen," he says. "But, for the purposes of getting a sense of the population, it's a reasonable question."

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