By Larry Mcshane

A coast-to-coast coalition of cities and states filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday to block the Trump administration from adding a citizenship question to the 2020 census.

The suit, filed by New York state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman on behalf of the plaintiffs, alleges a query about citizenship status would create devastating population undercounts for many states.

In New York, that could cost the state House seats along with billions of dollars in federal aid dispersed based on the number of its residents.

"This is really just an effort to punish places like New York that welcome immigrants and embrace the American tradition of open arms for all," said Schneiderman at a Manhattan news conference.

The prosecutors represent 17 states and the District of Columbia in the legal battle to stop the Trump Administration, which has made immigration a major national issue.

"The prospect of someone saying 'I am from the Trump administration' knocking on your door to ask a question about citizenship would provoke real fear," said Schneiderman.

In addition to the states and Washington, D.C., the lawsuit was joined by the bi-partisan U.S. Conference of Mayors and the cities of New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Providence, San Francisco and Seattle.

Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum flew cross-country to join Schneiderman in the fight against the change.

"This question about citizenship runs counter to the intent of the law," she said. "We believe that every person in American counts."

The last time a citizenship question appeared on the census was during the Truman Administration in 1950.

"This is a brazen attempt by the Trump Administration to cheat on the census, to undermine the accuracy of the census and to attack states that have large immigrant populations," said Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-Manhattan).

"States that just happen to be Democratic. This is an attempt to steal congressional seats from those states, to steal billions and billions and billions of education aid and housing aid and infrastructure aid."

(c)2018 New York Daily News