Ross said in his memo the last time it was included was in 1950, but that other surveys by the Census Bureau do now ask the question.
California and NY vowed to sue to block the move, saying it will deter immigrants from participating.
Pressed on whether this would disproportionately affect more liberal states, Sanders said: "I think that it is going to determine the individuals in our country and provide information that allows us to provide with our own laws, our own procedures".
Ross cast the decision as a "reinstatement" of the citizenship question, which last appeared on the decennial census in 1950.
The Justice Department said in a statement it was important to restore the use of a citizenship question in the 10-year census because it is used for redistricting purposes and the yearly survey is not the most appropriate data to use for that goal.
The question asks, "Are you a US citizen?". "Our objective is to have this citizenship question - which arbitrarily ignores decade after decade of our nation's regular census practices - not included in the 2020 Census".
If non-citizens in MA don't answer the census honestly, or at all, said Galvin, that will affect the population numbers for the state - which would then affect representation in Congress as well as access to federal funds for transportation or education, among other things, that are linked to population size. "The administration's claim that it is simply seeking to protect voting rights is not only laughable, but contemptible". The final determination to add the question to the 2020 census form was made by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.
California has already filed suit to block the question.More news: Waymo zooms toward a diverse robo-taxi fleet with Jaguar deal
Tuesday's release disclosed plans by New York State to lead a multi-state lawsuit to "preserve a fair and accurate Census".
As early as September of past year, months before the announcement that the question was a possibility, Census researchers spoke up about exactly these concerns. "Particularly in the current national climate, a citizenship question will obviously cause great consternation and discourage participation in the census".
Opponents of placing a question about citizenship include the state of California and many interest groups representing migrants.
The announcement came as President Donald Trump tries to keep his campaign promise to build a border wall between Mexico and the United States and to crack down on illegal immigration.
"The addition of a citizenship question to the census questionnaire is a direct attack on our representative democracy", Holder said in a statement.
NY will lead a coalition of blue states in a lawsuit against the Trump administration over a decision to include a citizenship question on the 2020 U.S. Census.
"This undercount would frustrate the Census Bureau's obligation under the Constitution to determine "the whole number of persons in each state, ' threaten our states" fair representation in Congress, dilute our states' role in the Electoral College, and deprive our states of their fair share of hundreds of billions of dollars in federal funds that are allocated in part on decennial Census data", the attorneys general argued.