BOSTON – The chances of a citizenship question making its way onto next year's Census forms appear low to Secretary of State William Galvin, who oversees the count for Massachusetts.
During an appearance on WCVB's "On the Record" that aired Sunday, Galvin was asked for his take on the U.S. Supreme Court's June 27 ruling that blocked the Department of Commerce from asking about citizenship on the Census unless officials return to the courts and provide a valid reason for including it.
"The logistics of printing the questionnaires in multiple languages for distribution across the whole country, really, is almost prohibitive when it comes to the timeline," said Galvin, who has opposed the citizenship question and cheered the court's ruling. "Basically what the Supreme Court did is they remanded it back to the District Court in New York, so the result is going to be more litigation. And as you know, President Trump Tweeted something about delaying the whole Census. I think that's not realistic. It's in the Constitution, and he can't suspend the Constitution."
Speaking to reporters outside the White House on July 5, President Donald Trump said he was exploring various ways to move forward with the citizenship question and "thinking about" issuing an executive order.
"We could also add an addition on so we can start the printing now and maybe do an addendum after we get a positive decision," Trump said. "So we're working on a lot of things, including an executive order."
Trump on Sunday said his administration was "moving ahead" with the Census and called the costs associated with it "ridiculous."
"But they're spending 15 to 20 billion dollars on a census," he said, according to a White House transcript. "They're asking everything, except 'Are you a citizen of the United States?' How ridiculous is that? So we are moving forward; we have a couple of avenues."
Galvin said he believed the question is intended "to sabotage the Census in states like ours."
A Brighton Democrat who has overseen the last two Census counts in Massachusetts, Galvin said statistical estimates show the state's population at about 6.9 million people.
"That's clearly enough people to justify the nine seats in Congress that we now have, but if the count is badly flawed and we come in at a substantially lower number than that, then it presents a problem," he said.
The "two big challenges" Massachusetts confronts in getting an accurate count are its foreign-born and student populations, Galvin said. He said foreign-born residents, a group that he said includes naturalized citizens and green card-holders, account for about 1 million people.
"The increase in our population over the last 10 years has largely been because of the foreign-born population that's come here," Galvin said. "The second factor, though, which people overlook is the students. Students should be counted here if they spend most of the year here."
Galvin's office plans to conduct Census outreach to seasonal populations this summer, informing them that their responses should be recorded where they live most of the time, according to a timeline on the secretary's website. Outreach to student populations is slated to begin in late August.