A federal judge on Tuesday set aside U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross’s decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census questionnaire.

U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman in Manhattan said 18 U.S. states, 15 cities and civil rights groups that opposed the question proved it was more likely than not that they would be harmed if it were added.

The judge also said Ross’s actions violated federal law, despite a lack of proof that he was motivated by discriminatory intent in proposing the question. 

Ross proposed reinstating the citizenship question last March 26, ostensibly at the request of the U.S. Department of Justice to better police potential voter discrimination.

Critics, however, said the question was intended to frighten immigrants into not being counted.

They said this would cost their communities, including many that lean Democratic, political representation, as well as billions of dollars of federal aid.

The Commerce Department did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Reuters (Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Jonathan Oatis)