Galvin:  Trump Administration ‘Sabotaging’ Massachusetts Through Are-You-A-Citizen Query in Census

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The Trump administration is trying to sabotage Democrat-leaning states like Massachusetts by undercounting immigrants and college students in the 2020 federal census, Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin said.

Galvin, a Democrat, accused the Republican presidential administration of politicizing the census to the detriment of Massachusetts, to the point where the state may lose federal grant money for transportation and education and political representation in Congress and in certain individual communities.

He said he may ask Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, also a Democrat, to bring legal action against the Trump administration over the census.

“I’m very concerned. Everything I see here suggests to me that they don’t really want a good count in states like ours,” Galvin told a joint session of the Ways and Means committees of the Massachusetts Legislature on Tuesday.

Galvin singled out the U.S. Department of Commerce, which runs the federal census, and the U.S. Department of Justice.

Galvin explained the details to the state legislators during testimony about his agency’s budget, according to a recording provided by State House News Service

“What I’m about to say is, I think, something that’s a unique crisis that none of us could have anticipated. It’s pretty obvious to me, as the census director and the communication I’ve had with the Commerce Department so far in preparing for the 2020 Census which is now just two years away, that the Trump Administration intends to politicize this census,” Galvin said. “They are clearly setting us up for a shortfall in states such as Massachusetts with some of the policies that they’re considering and have already implemented. I say nothing less than sabotaging it for states like Massachusetts.”

He continued:

“For instance, there has been a suggestion from the United States Justice Department to the Department of Commerce that a question be inserted into the census Are you a citizen? But everybody knows under the federal code, everyone should be counted whether they’re citizens or not. So by putting that in there they’re clearly deterring people who might not be citizens from being counted.”

“Another area that is of great concern to me, going back to what I said a few minutes ago, is the college students. Traditionally, we try to get that so-called ‘group quarters’ count completed before colleges go out of operation in the spring,” Galvin said. “They want to extend it, so they’d be chasing these people in the summer when they’re no longer there. I don’t think it’s too extreme to say that that’s a deliberate effort on their part to make for an undercount in Massachusetts.”

Galvin said it’s already difficult to count immigrants, many of whom speak languages other than English and believe that if they’re citizens of another country then they shouldn’t participate in the U.S. census. Those that aren’t citizens may shy away from the census takers if the census includes a question about citizenship, he said.

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross said Galvin’s claims are inaccurate.

“Secretary Galvin has his facts wrong,” Ross said in a written statement to New Boston Post, through a press spokesman. “No decision has been made regarding the Justice Department’s request that we reinstate the citizenship question and we have no intention of counting college students differently from 2010. As to his concern about foreign languages, we are printing the census in 17 languages and will be advertising extensively in publications read by immigrants. We are committed to a full, fair, and accurate Census.”

The U.S. Department of Justice did not immediately provide a comment when reached by New Boston Post on Tuesday afternoon.

Every state gets two U.S. senators, but the number of U.S. representatives in each state depends on its population relative to other states as determined by the federal census, which in accord with the U.S. Constitution is taken every 10 years in years ending in zero.

Massachusetts has been steadily losing representation in the U.S. House of Representatives – from 12 during the 1960s and 1970s to 11 in the 1980s to 10 in the 1990s and 2000s to 9 currently. All nine of the state’s U.S. representatives and both U.S. senators are currently Democrats. The next election the 2020 census will affect is 2022.

But Galvin also noted that individual communities within the state that have large populations of immigrants and college students would lose out if those groups are undercounted, both in political representation (such as state House and Senate districts) and in government grants.

Galvin, who has served as Massachusetts Secretary of State since 1995, is being challenged from the left in the Democratic primary this year by Boston City Councilor Josh Zakim. College towns and cities with large numbers of immigrants tend not only to vote Democratic but also to lean left, so they could be battlegrounds in the Democratic primary in September.