Every decade since at least 1981, the release of Census data and the subsequent redistricting process has created new opportunities for Latino political advancement as a result of the growth and prominence of the Latino community throughout the nation. Unfortunately, achieving this progress has always required strong and informed advocacy, as well as litigation under the Constitution and under section 2 of the federal Voting Rights Act (VRA). Each decade, MALDEF has been an acknowledged national leader in this hard-fought work. This year is no exception – in both the hopefulness of the Census data and the challenge in securing districts where Latino voters have the ability to elect candidates of choice. Census data show that Latinos accounted for over half the population growth of the nation as a whole, and 27 states now exceed ten percent in Latino population. Yet, we are already litigating statewide redistricting issues in Illinois and in Texas. In both cases, the majority party in the state legislature (Democrats in Illinois, Republicans in Texas) adopted maps that dismantle existing Latino-majority districts and that fail to create new Latino-majority districts, even though, in both states, Latinos experienced significant growth in comparison to other population groups. At MALDEF, we know that this is just the beginning of our work, likely to continue through most of the decade, to secure Latino voting rights in fair electoral districts.
As we undertake this critical redistricting work, we also recognize the need for reinvigorated federal voting rights laws and the necessity of acting to ensure that young Latino immigrants can continue to make their essential contributions to our national economy, security, and community. We look forward to our ongoing partnership with all of you!