TRENTON — New Jersey is home to about 900,000 residents who are not citizens of the United States. That's about 1 in 10 people in the state, according to most recent estimates.

The federal government is planning to have the 2020 Census ask people their citizenship status. But many elected officials and community advocates say such a question could threaten federal funding for states like New Jersey.

U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., said Tuesday that a disproportionate number of people of color, whether or not they are citizens, live in New Jersey's so-called hard-to-count areas, defined as places where a low percentage of residents completed and submitted the most recent Census. The most up-to-date statistics released by Advocates for Children of New Jersey show that 51 percent of the state's black residents and 40 percent of Hispanic residents live in such areas.

The proposed Census question would not explicitly ask whether a non-citizen is in the country legally, but Booker said it still threatens to "keep immigrants and people of color in New Jersey and across our nation undercounted and underrepresented in our society."

"It's going to choke the participation we have in many of these already hard-to-count communities," he said. "It's going to set us back."

The citizen question is already asked by the the American Community Survey, which is an offshoot of the Census.

According to the ACS, 110 municipalities in the state have populations that are more than 10 percent non-citizen. Sixteen municipalities have at least a quarter of their populations made up of non-citizens.

Non-citizens include people with Green Cards and visas that allow them to live in this country legally.

The public has until Aug. 7 to comment on the citizenship question.

NJ towns with the most non-citizens

Ranked by percentage. See the full map below. (Naturalized citizens are immigrants who became citizens. Stats don't include citizens born abroad or on U.S. islands.)

East Newark
U.S.-born citizens: 1,107
Naturalized citizens: 483
Non-citizens: 1,045 — 38%

Palisades Park
U.S.-born citizens: 6,887
Naturalized citizens: 6,057
Non-citizens: 7,215 — 35%

West New York
U.S.-born citizens: 19,571
Naturalized citizens: 12,767
Non-citizens: 18,404 — 35%

Union City
U.S.-born citizens: 25,568
Naturalized citizens: 16,463
Non-citizens: 23,697 — 34%

U.S.-born citizens: 6,637
Naturalized citizens: 2,817
Non-citizens: 5,013 — 33%

U.S.-born citizens: 29,915
Naturalized citizens: 4,638
Non-citizens: 14,972 — 30%

New Brunswick
U.S.-born citizens: 34,307
Naturalized citizens: 4,032
Non-citizens: 16,641 — 29%

U.S.-born citizens: 8,476
Naturalized citizens: 2,984
Non-citizens: 5,360 — 29%

U.S.-born citizens: 61,580
Naturalized citizens: 24,003
Non-citizens: 36,215 — 28%

U.S.-born citizens: 11,910
Naturalized citizens: 4,725
Non-citizens: 6,497 — 28%

U.S.-born citizens: 5,010
Naturalized citizens: 3,277
Non-citizens: 3,182 — 27%

South Hackensack
U.S.-born citizens: 1,534
Naturalized citizens: 455
Non-citizens: 725 — 27%

U.S.-born citizens: 3,004
Naturalized citizens: 358
Non-citizens: 1,210 — 26%

Perth Amboy
U.S.-born citizens: 26,148
Naturalized citizens: 7,774
Non-citizens: 13,491 — 26%

U.S.-born citizens: 8,039
Naturalized citizens: 736
Non-citizens: 3,016 — 25%

U.S.-born citizens: 6,843
Naturalized citizens: 3,687
Non-citizens: 3,608 — 25%

Victory Gardens
U.S.-born citizens: 871
Naturalized citizens: 214
Non-citizens: 395 — 24%

Jersey City
U.S.-born citizens: 143,462
Naturalized citizens: 48,125
Non-citizens: 59,419 — 23%

North Bergen
U.S.-born citizens: 27,971
Naturalized citizens: 18,672
Non-citizens: 14,179 — 23%

Little Ferry
U.S.-born citizens: 5,669
Naturalized citizens: 2,570
Non-citizens: 2,431 — 22%

U.S.-born citizens: 38,718
Naturalized citizens: 11,743
Non-citizens: 15,668 — 22%

U.S.-born citizens: 53,918
Naturalized citizens: 24,379
Non-citizens: 22,315 — 22%

U.S.-born citizens: 25,272
Naturalized citizens: 8,238
Non-citizens: 9,631 — 22%

Fort Lee
U.S.-born citizens: 16,475
Naturalized citizens: 11,398
Non-citizens: 7,941 — 22%

Long Branch
U.S.-born citizens: 20,348
Naturalized citizens: 3,033
Non-citizens: 6,619 — 22%

U.S.-born citizens: 18,397
Naturalized citizens: 544
Non-citizens: 5,408 — 21%

U.S.-born citizens: 4,853
Naturalized citizens: 2,220
Non-citizens: 1,935 — 21%

U.S.-born citizens: 63
Naturalized citizens: 5
Non-citizens: 18 — 21%

U.S.-born citizens: 6,698
Naturalized citizens: 2,559
Non-citizens: 2,503 — 21%

Red Bank
U.S.-born citizens: 8,761
Naturalized citizens: 842
Non-citizens: 2,505 — 21%

U.S.-born citizens: 23,224
Naturalized citizens: 8,973
Non-citizens: 8,536 — 20%

City of Orange
U.S.-born citizens: 18,703
Naturalized citizens: 5,036
Non-citizens: 6,116 — 20%

U.S.-born citizens: 17,663
Naturalized citizens: 6,885
Non-citizens: 6,251 — 20%

Bound Brook
U.S.-born citizens: 7,159
Naturalized citizens: 1,084
Non-citizens: 2,062 — 20%

U.S.-born citizens: 5,790
Naturalized citizens: 3,087
Non-citizens: 2,208 — 20%

$600B at stake

Of particular concern, said New Jersey Institute for Social Justice associate counsel Scott Novakowski, is how the Census helps allocate federal assistance within these mostly urban communities.

"It's used to determine how over $600 billion in federal funds are distributed to state and local governments," he said. "This is money used to support affordable housing, local schools, (and) healthcare facilities."

Sara Cullinane, Make the Road New Jersey director, echoed Booker when she said the citizenship question is being proposed to instill fear. But even fear, she added, has a monetary cost.

"Immigrants are now frightened of accessing benefits for their U.S. citizen children," Cullinane said.

The next Census Day is set for April 1, 2020, and a 2017 release from the U.S. Census Bureau identified the date for wording of all Census questions to be submitted to Congress as March 31 of this year. So for those fighting for a question on citizenship status to be excluded, the clock has been ticking for months already.

"That's why the ACLU is challenging the Census question in federal court, and it's why New Jersey's attorney general joined a lawsuit with several other states against this question," said Amol Sinha, American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey executive director. "There's so much at stake."

Non-citizens in New Jersey

Scroll the map and click on a municipality to how many residents are U.S.-born citizens, naturalized citizens and non-citizens. The darker the shade of red the higher the percentage of non-citizens.

Patrick Lavery is Senior Producer of Morning News and Special Programming for New Jersey 101.5, and is lead reporter and substitute anchor for "New Jersey's First News." Follow him on Twitter @plavery1015 or email

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