Washington, Mar 28 (PTI) The Trump Administration has defended its decision to include a question on citizenship in the upcoming 2020 census, saying it was an important step meant to protect voters.

However, the main opposition party, the Democratic Party, questioned the move, saying it could be used against the immigrant community, in particular the undocumented workers.

“We’ve contained this question that’s provided data that’s necessary for the Department of Justice to protect voters, and specifically to help us better comply with the Voting Rights Act, which is something that’s important and part of this process,” White House Press Secretary Sarah said.

The decision in this regard was taken by the Department of Justice on Monday.

Sanders said the question had been part of the census for decades — since 1965 with the exception of 2010, when it was removed — and something that the Department of Commerce felt strongly needed to be included again.

“The purpose is to determine individuals that are here. It also helps to comply with the Voting Rights Act. Without that information, its hard to make those determinations,” Sanders told reporters during her daily news conference yesterday.

However, the Democratic Party and other opposing groups refused to buy the government’s argument. They said the decision could have far-reaching effects on immigrants and the political landscape.

Several Democratic-run States like New York and California have said that they would approach the court against such a decision by the Trump Administration.

“What the Trump Administration is requesting is not just alarming, it is an unconstitutional attempt to discourage an accurate Census count,” California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said in a statement.

House Democratic Caucus Chairman Joe Crowley said that adding a question on citizenship to the 2020 Census is “an unacceptable” move to politicise and derail the 2020 Census.

“This effort is a direct threat to our representative democracy, a blatant effort to intimidate immigrant communities, and a complete sabotage of the census process,” said Crowley.

“At a time when we have seen anti-immigrant rhetoric and policies flow from the White House, a question on citizenship would instill fear and distrust among immigrant communities, depressing participation and increasing the risk of an inaccurate count,” he said.

Congressman Elijah Cummings, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, said the adding a citizenship question without a testing opportunity now would invalidate the cost projections, staffing needs, and communications strategies etc for the 2020 polls.

“In addition, the Census Bureau would need to modify data capture and processing systems, language assistance and enumerator training materials, and web-based instructions for completing the census in the time remaining before the 2020 Census starts all without the benefit of field testing,” he said.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.