PATERSON, NJ - Local leaders are celebrating a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court that appears to cast doubt on the ability of the Trump Administration to ask a question related to respondent’s citizenship status in the upcoming census.

While not striking down the question completely, the Court, in a 5-4 vote, sent the question back to a lower court for further consideration, according to widely circulated reports. Given the short timeline before census questionnaires must go to print some experts have speculated that it makes the question’s inclusion near impossible.

“It is essential that we get an accurate count on the 2020 Census so that our residents get the resources we deserve,” Mayor Andre Sayegh, who has established a committee solely for the purpose of increasing response locally told TAPinto Paterson previously.

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Still analyzing the decision Sayegh offered that “we have said from day one that the citizenship question was nothing more than an effort to stifle the count in cities like Paterson.”

"While we don't have a final answer, we are comforted that the highest court in the land seems to agree with us,” he continued, concluding that he and the committee "remain focused on counting every resident of Paterson in 2020, regardless of what a rogue White House throws our way."

While the most recent count by the U.S. Census Bureau reflects a Paterson population of just under 150,000, most believe it is much higher than that. Federal funding for government programs including those for child health, education, housing, and road construction are all distributed based on the numbers, as is the distribution of Congressional members. 

“If you are not going to fight for an accurate count you are not doing your job as an American,” Congressman Bill Pascrell said at a recent Census 2020 hiring event.

On Thursday Pascrell added “our national count is sacred, and Trump’s attempt to corrupt is born of divisive racism to further imbalance our political system at the expense of disenfranchising minority communities.”

In an environment where immigrants are already experiencing heightened concern about bringing any unnecessary attention to themselves or their status, many community advocates, including Inge Spungen, executive director of the Paterson Alliance, have been working alongside the Sayegh Administration to eliminate any obstacles to maximizing response rates, raising the concern that a citizenship question would hurt efforts to make sure Paterson officially passes the 150,000 resident mark.

Following the Supreme Court's announcement Spungen said that she was “thrilled” with the decision but warned that the possibility still exists that a lower court will allow the problematic question to remain.

Sayegh, Spungen, and other advocates are expected to gather Friday to further discuss the decision and efforts to count Paterson’s population.

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