COURT-RELEASED MAP PROMISES IMPORTANT MALDEF VICTORY FOR LATINOS IN TEXAS
Court supports increased Latino electoral opportunity throughout the State
SAN ANTONIO, TX – Today, MALDEF's tireless efforts in Texas federal courts have resulted in a court-proposed plan that promises increased Latino electoral opportunity throughout the state. A panel of federal judges in San Antonio has released a new redistricting plan that will improve representation for Texas Latinos, including the creation of an additional Latino opportunity district in South Texas. A Latino opportunity district is a district that includes a sufficient number of Latino voters to enable them to elect a candidate of their choice.
In July 2011, MALDEF filed suit against Texas for enacting discriminatory congressional and state redistricting plans. The plans, enacted by the state legislature, unfairly denied Latinos the ability to elect candidates of their choice, even as the growth in Texas's Latino population earned the state four new congressional districts following the 2010 Census. MALDEF argued on behalf of the Texas Latino Redistricting Task Force and seventeen individual voters.
Thomas A. Saenz, MALDEF President and General Counsel, stated, "For the second time in less than a decade, the federal court system has had to step in to ensure that Texas recognizes the right of Latino voters to play an increasing role in the Texas congressional delegation. The federal Voting Rights Act has again proven a vital and necessary protection of minority opportunity."
Today's court-ordered congressional redistricting plan:
- Creates an additional congressional district (CD 35) along the I-35 corridor in South Texas that will afford Latinos the opportunity to elect their candidate of choice. At trial, MALDEF argued that the significant population growth in this region warranted the addition of a congressional district in this area.
- Creates a congressional district in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex (CD 33) that contains a plurality of Latino population and is likely to grow into a Latino opportunity district over the next decade. At trial, MALDEF argued that the over 1 million Latinos in the Dallas- Fort Worth Metroplex area should have the opportunity to elect their candidate of choice.
- Restores Congressional District 27 in South Texas that the Texas Legislature had dismantled and provides an opportunity for Cameron County to anchor a congressional district. At trial, MALDEF argued that the State should not have dismantled CD27 to protect an incumbent who was not favored by Latino voters in the district. MALDEF also argued that the significant population growth in the Rio Grande Valley, along with its substantial need for additional representation, required basing an additional congressional district in the Valley.
- Restores Congressional District 23 in West Texas and allows Latino voters in CD23 to elect their preferred candidate. CD23 was re-drawn by the federal court in 2006 in order to provide Latinos the opportunity to elect their candidate of choice following MALDEF's U.S. Supreme Court victory in LULAC v. Perry. At trial, MALDEF had argued that the Legislature’s dismantling of CD23 violated the Voting Rights Act.
"Latinos constituted 65% of the state’s population growth and are largely responsible for Texas gaining 4 new congressional seats," stated Nina Perales, MALDEF’s Vice President of Litigation. "Today's court-drawn plan is a repudiation of Texas’s strategy of diluting Latino voting strength and denying Latinos a fair chance to elect their preferred candidates."
The parties in the case have until Friday at noon to comment on the plan released by the three-judge panel.
Founded in 1968, MALDEF is the nation's leading Latino legal civil rights organization. Often described as the "law firm of the Latino community," MALDEF promotes social change through advocacy, communications, community education, and litigation in the areas of education, employment, immigrant rights, and political access. For more information on MALDEF, please visit: www.maldef.org.