NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - It's a small change, that could make a big difference.
For the first time in decades, the census will include a citizenship question.
The announcement has spurred debate across the state of Texas.
On Tuesday, East Texans familiar with the census and its purpose talked about the impact this could have on residents of the Lone Star State.
The census is meant to count total population - not just U.S. citizens. It's what Dr. Bob saffron, a sociology professor at Stephen F. Austin State University teaches in his demography class.
"The purpose of the census, first and foremost, is to allocate representatives for the U.S. House of Representatives by state," Saffron said.
A lower population number could mean less representation for Texas. So why the need for a citizenship question at all?
"To protect voters and specifically to help us better comply with the Voting Rights Act," said Sarah Sanders, the White House press secretary.
Critics, including those in East Texas, say the citizenship question could intimidate non-citizens from participating in the census.
Social worker James Montoya of Nacogdoches is an American citizen born and raised in the U.S. He finds the question offensive.
"I'm not going to mark it on there," Montoya said.
Montoya believes he won't be the only American refusing to answer the question based on principle.
"If American citizens feel the way they do about what's going on with the immigration, I think there may be a lot of citizens that refuse to answer that question," Montoya said. "What's that going to do? It's going to hurt us in our funding. It's going to hurt us in all the other aspects of what the census is for."
Fischer and Fischer, immigration attorneys in Nacogdoches, work on a daily basis with immigrants.
"From my experience with working with the immigrant population I think that having a question like that on the census is probably going to result in severe underreporting," said Amelia Fischer, an immigration attorney.
The debate has begun. Its outcome will be watched by local communities whose federal dollars are at stake.
The citizenship question hasn't been asked on the primary census form since 1950.