Immigrants react to proposed citizenship question - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Immigrants react to proposed citizenship question

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WATERLOO (KWWL) -

Immigrants living in eastern Iowa are reacting to President Trump's proposal to add a question about citizenship to the 2020 census.

The question hasn't been on the census since the 1950s, and many of the eastern Iowa immigrants say it's a bad idea.

In a controversial move this week, President Trump hopes to once again add the question to the 2020 census, 'what is your citizenship?'

However, the proposal is causing quite the backlash, with at least 20 states urging the Commerce Department to drop the question.

Cedar Valley immigrant and advocate for other area immigrants, Umaru Balde, said it's concerning, "People get scared. We have difficulties getting people to fill out DHS forms or school forms for their kids. There are cases where they fill out the forms, and they skip the address part, because they think someone might come into their homes and pick up someone who is undocumented, or even if they are documented. Right now, you just don't know."

Balde said that adding the question could scare off undocumented immigrants from participating in the census, which would then potentially throw off federal funding for services in areas with more immigrants, like Waterloo.

"It's going to cause an imbalance in congress, and we have people who advocate for us, and we might lose them. We might lose numbers, and nobody wants that to happen," Balde said.

Balde said it's a discouraging time for many immigrants who are hard-working people just trying to gain their U.S. citizenship.

"Before this, we were Okay. We didn't really worry too much about it, but now it's very difficult, because I haven't been home to Africa to see my mom for five years now. I did plan on going this summer, but my attorney and friends recommended against it, even though I'm a permanent resident," Balde said.

Saturday is the deadline for the Commerce Department to decide whether that question will stay.

According to Congressman Steve King, "The Commerce Department has granted my request and is restoring a necessary citizenship question to improve the quality of census data gathered,” said King. 

“Census data is used for a variety of reasons, including the apportionment of Congressional seats. Sanctuary states like California flaunt federal immigration law to give aid and comfort to large populations of illegal aliens, and those states are unjustly rewarded with extra Congressional representation as a byproduct of doing so," King added.

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