Galvin nervous on Census count
Counting college students, immigrants won’t be easy
SECRETARY OF STATE William Galvin said on Thursday that the sudden evacuation of college campuses due to the coronavirus and the wariness of immigrants to answer US Census questions could jeopardize the state’s ability to hang on to its nine congressional seats.
Massachusetts has an estimated 6.9 million residents. It’s the only state in the Northeast that is experiencing population growth, so Galvin said Massachusetts should easily retain its current representation in Congress and receive the federal funding its population deserves. Officials estimate every person counted represents $2,372 in federal funding.
Yet Galvin worries that counting all of the residents of Massachusetts will be difficult for the federally run Census, which launched its count on Thursday. Residents can fill out the forms online (www.2020census.gov and www.my2020census.gov ), by mail, or by phone by May 12. Between May 13 and July 31, Census workers will try to track down missing residents in person.
The secretary said 1 million of the state’s residents are non-native born, and many of them are wary of talking to government representatives at a time when the Trump administration is cracking down on people living in the country illegally. An earlier push to include a citizenship question on the Census form was shot down, but it heightened anxieties about releasing personal information, he said.
“This is a count. That’s all this is,” Galvin said at the State House. He noted government agencies cannot use the information for any other purpose than to count the size of the population.
“Whether they are legally present or not, we believe they are here,” Galvin said. “We know they should be counted.”
The mass exodus of students from college campuses because of the coronavirus has also become a major problem, as it’s difficult to count people who are no longer in the state. Galvin said the decision by many campuses to send students home and hold classes online couldn’t have come at a worse time.Galvin said he is asking Census officials to use college records to determine how many students are living not only on campus in forms but off-campus as well.
Galvin said the two communities with the highest non-response rates are Lawrence and New Bedford. New Bedford last year formed a committee of city and community officials to focus on the issue and hired a Census outreach coordinator.