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Stockton, Los Angeles And 3 Other Cities Join Lawsuit Over Census Question

Michelle R. Smith / AP Photo

This March 23, 2018 photo shows an envelope containing a 2018 census test letter mailed to a resident in Providence, R.I.

Michelle R. Smith / AP Photo

(AP) — The city and county of Los Angeles joined four other cities Friday in California's lawsuit challenging the Trump administration's plan to ask people if they are U.S. citizens during the 2020 census.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra argues that including such a question will lead to immigrants dodging the survey altogether, diluting political representation and potentially robbing many communities of federal dollars.

"This action by the Trump administration threatens all of us," Becerra said at a news conference Friday. "We know if you're not counted, you don't count."

In addition to the nation's most populous county and the second most populous city, the cities of Stockton, Fremont, Long Beach and Oakland also joined California's suit that was filed earlier this year.

The census has not collected citizenship data from the whole population since 1950 and instead included the question in surveys just sent to a population sample.

The census, a massive effort taken every 10 years, is required by the Constitution and is used to determine the number of seats each state has in the House of Representatives as well as how federal money is distributed to local communities.

The Justice Department has said the reinstatement of the citizenship question "will allow the department to protect the right to vote and ensure free and fair elections for all Americans."

Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer said the city's choice to join the lawsuit was both symbolic and substantiate because of the city's large immigrant community, whose members could avoid participating because of the citizenship query.

"We won't stand idly by as the Trump administration brazenly attempts to suppress the count of LA residents," Feuer said.

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Follow Michael Balsamo on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MikeBalsamo1.

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