Map, rejected by Council, Promised Best Representation for All Minority Groups in City

The Chicago City Council approved a redistricting map on January 19, 2012 that did not meet the standards of MALDEF's proposed Equity Map, which called for 14 majority Latino wards, 18 African American wards, and keeping the communities of Chinatown and Back of the Yards together, while maintaining the legal population requirements based on 2010 Census numbers.

Despite MALDEF's efforts, Chicago rushed back to business as usual and passed a new map that was created behind closed doors. The map was passed by City Council just hours after it was completed, without any further opportunity for community input. MALDEF attorneys believe the new map only creates 11 effective majority Latino wards, not the 13 the City Council is claiming. It also fractures the communities of Back of the Yards and Chinatown, which MALDEF's Equity Map would have kept intact. The map also creates wards that are not equal in population, leaving predominantly White districts overpopulated and African American districts underpopulated – compared to the standard deviation – potentially opening the redistricting to further legal challenge.

The new map will not take effect until the next aldermanic elections in 2015.


CHICAGO, IL – Calling for 14 majority Latino wards, 18 African American wards, and keeping the communities of Chinatown and Back of the Yards together while maintaining the legal population requirements based on the 2010 Census numbers, is the foundation of the proposed Equity map filed on January 4, 2012 by MALDEF with the city of Chicago.

The proposed map also complies with the requirements of the federal Voting Rights Act, the United States Constitution and the Illinois Constitution, which mandates that the map being proposed provides fair and equal opportunity for minority residents of the city of Chicago to elect representatives of their choice.

"There is no such thing as a perfect map, but there is such a thing as a legal map that meets the requirements set forth by the Constitution," stated Alonzo Rivas, MALDEF Midwest Regional Counsel. "The reality is that while Chicago's population has changed drastically in the past decade, what hasn't changed is that we continue to be a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural city. This diversity is what makes our communities strong, and we believe that our Equity Map manages to incorporate the changes in demographics while maintaining our communities together."

Under MALDEF's proposed Equity map, Chinatown, whose population is currently distributed among four different wards, is kept in one single ward. This has been a goal advocated by the Chinese community at both the state and city level.

CW Chan, President of the Coalition for a Better Chinese American Community (CBCAC), commented, that “CBCAC appreciates MALDEF's recognition of Chinatown as a ‘Community of Interest’ in its proposed map with a ward consisting of 44% Asian American Voting Age Population. CBCAC has a long history of collaborating with MALDEF and most recently we have worked closely in the state legislative redistricting. This relationship is further enhanced by our common conviction of a fair and equitable redistricting and our shared belief that among ethnic minority communities, an open redistricting process would ensure that the gain of one group is not achieved at the expense of another."

MALDEF's Equity Map was the third proposed map filed with the city. Previously the Latino Caucus filed their "Taxpayer Protection Map" and the Black Caucus filed a "For a Better Chicago Map," which includes the support of many white aldermen.

"The Latino Caucus has set an example of leadership through their teamwork and their willingness to compromise. We ask that their example be followed by Mayor Emanuel and the City Council by keeping their promise of holding public hearings prior to any map being voted upon. This will give all Chicagoans an opportunity to voice their comments on what the proposed maps mean to their communities. In this way the Mayor will be keeping his promise of making all aspects of city government transparent and accountable to its citizens," concluded Rivas.

Click here to see MALDEF's proposed map, and here for accompanying data.

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:

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Copyright 2009 MALDEF — Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund