Department of Justice seeking to add citizenship status question in 2020 census

Are you a United States citizen? It's a question you will not currently find on the census, but a request may change that.

The question of citizenship status was removed from the U.S. census decades ago. However, the Department of Justice has asked the Census Bureau to add the question back in a letter submitted in December.

The explanation in the letter outlined the need to obtain a reliable calculation of the voting-age population.

Pushback has been swift with critics pointing to an added cost associated with the question along with creating fears for respondents. Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., is opposed to the proposal of adding the question to the 2020 Census.

"Those who are advocating for it says, 'What do you mean? It's a simple question of fact.' Well yeah, except it's in the climate of a president who wants to deport millions of people who are here, who wants to prevent refugees from coming in the country, who wants to cut in half the legal immigration numbers to come into the United States, who wants to build a border wall with Mexico, who has disparaged Mexicans and Muslims and other immigrant groups," said Connolly. "So in that context, it's not an irrational thing if you are immigrant to be afraid of that question."

"This question has been asked before. It's not a problem. It's a question that is important to ask for the drawing of districts in some states," said Mike Gonzalez, a senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation. "The race and ethnicity questions are the ones that present huge problems to us in terms of governing, in terms of being a constitutional republic. Not a citizenship question. We are a country of citizens."

FOX 5 reached out to the Department of Justice for comment on the proposed question, but they declined to comment.