MALDEF Releases Statement Supporting Abbott's Maps

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MALDEF, the Mexican-American Legal Defense and Education Fund, has released a statement in favor of AG Greg Abbott's terrible compromise maps. Remember, Abbott has not obtained the support of the NAACP, Wendy Davis, the Travis County Groups, or MALC.

MALDEF praises the maps, since they ensure more Hispanic districts, even though they do so at the potential expense of an African-American elected from Tarrant County, or the coalition of Hispanic, African-American, Anglo, and Asian liberals in Austin electing a Congressperson from our own community. Let's not forget that African-Americans had significant population growth in Texas as well. This is a short-sighted deal by MALDEF. By bargaining with Abbott for short-term gain and hurting other members of our coalition, MALDEF is creating unnecessary divisions between the plaintiffs, and potentially creating a long-term rift between Hispanic and African-American groups.

Abbott's maps are intended to help minimize Republican losses in 2012 and protect Republican incumbents. His real goal is to prevent a split primary, for fear that Tea Party voters would outnumber pro-business and moderate Republicans. The big-money backers of the Texas GOP are pushing for this settlement for their own best interests. It's shameful to see MALDEF going along with Abbott's chicanery rather than what is in the best interest of all Texans.

As long as more Republicans are elected, all Latinos will suffer in Texas.

  • Republicans pass restrictive Voter ID laws that disenfranchise Latinos more than any other group.
  • Republicans slash funding to education, pre-K, healthcare, Medicaid and Medicare, on which our Latino populations depend.
  • Republicans simply don't care about the poor here in Texas. Over 50% of Texans in poverty are Latino.

In dealing with the Republicans for short-term gains this cycle, MALDEF is denying everyone in Texas the chance for fair representation, and decreasing the odds that Democrats will win many more seats this cycle. They can't even keeping the Hispanic coalition together, since MALC refuses to support Abbott's plan. I know MALDEF is a non-partisan organization, but it seems they don't seem to realize any Democrat is better for Latinos in Texas than any Republican. By refusing to maximize Democratic gains in redistricting litigation, they're hurting everyone here in Texas.

MALDEF's entire statement is below the jump.  

NEW TEXAS MAPS PROVIDE FOR FAIR LATINO REPRESENTATION

MALDEF and the Latino Redistricting Task Force are amenable to Texas' new redistricting plans

SAN ANTONIO, TX – Today, MALDEF and its client the Texas Latino Redistricting Task Force announced that they are amenable to the new Texas congressional and state House redistricting plans. The plans come following the U.S. Supreme Court's Perez v. Perry decision last month, requiring federal judges in San Antonio to redraw the interim court-drawn redistricting plans the State opposed. The San Antonio judges asked that the parties in the lawsuit present plans to which all parties could be amenable, so that new maps will be ready for Texas primaries in April.

The Texas Latino Redistricting Task Force filed suit against the State of Texas in June 2011 in order to secure new redistricting plans that treat all voters fairly and accurately reflect the population growth in Texas over the last decade.  The members of the Latino Redistricting Task Force believe Congressional Plan C226 and House Plan H303 meet the criteria the Task Force set forth. While neither plan is perfect, the Task Force feels it is time to move forward with Texas primaries and let the voters decide the outcome under a legally valid map that protects all existing minority opportunity districts (including districts in which African Americans and Asian Americans elect their preferred candidates) and complies with the Voting  Rights Act and the U.S. Constitution.  

Congressional Plan (C226)

MALDEF and the Task Force believe the congressional plan reflects the tremendous demographic growth in Texas: Latinos represented 65 percent of all new growth in the state since 2000. There are nine Latino opportunity districts statewide: CD 15, 16, 20, 23, 28, 29, 33, 34 and 35. No incumbents have been drawn out of their existing districts; and there has been no retrogression of existing African American opportunity districts. The new plan is consistent with the U.S. Supreme Court remand to utilize the state enacted map, with the exception of where legal defects exist under the Voting Rights Act or the Constitution.

Plan C226 restores CD 23 as a Latino opportunity district as it was following the U.S. Supreme Court remand in LULAC v. Perry in 2006. Maverick County remains whole in CD 23. In Dallas Fort Worth, CD 33 is a minority opportunity district that reflects the tremendous Latino and African American growth in the region. CD 33 contains 40 percent Hispanic citizen voting age population, and 18 percent African American voting age population.

The plan also reflects the growing Latino population in San Antonio along the I-35 corridor to Austin, and affords Latino voters the opportunity to elect their candidate of choice.  The plan also includes a Rio Grande Valley-based district; and in CD16, the plan restores the boundaries to the State-enacted map as requested by the County and City of El Paso.

Texas House Map (H303)

The Texas House plan likewise reflects the tremendous growth in the Texas Latino population. There is no retrogression of existing African American opportunity districts; and it is also consistent with the U.S. Supreme Court remand to utilize the state enacted map as mentioned above.

Plan H303 restores two Latino opportunity districts to Nueces County. It creates an additional Latino opportunity district in Hidalgo and Cameron counties to reflect Latino growth in those areas; the plan also creates an additional Latino opportunity district in Harris County. The plan also creates an additional Latino opportunity district in El Paso County by more fairly distributing Latino voting strength among the five House districts in El Paso.

Thomas A. Saenz, President and General Counsel of MALDEF, stated:  “Redistricting is a messy process of competing interests and concerns, perhaps nowhere messier than in Texas.  Our role has always been to ensure that the Latino community has a fair opportunity to elect candidates of choice in nine congressional districts and in 35 state House districts.  We are pleased that the state of Texas finally recognizes its legal obligation to provide a map meeting these parameters.”

Nina Perales, Vice President of Litigation for MALDEF and lead counsel for the Texas Latino Redistricting Taskforce, stated:  “Although they are not perfect, Plans C226 and H303 more fairly reflect the growing strength of Latino voters in Texas.  They properly recognize that protecting voting rights is more important than partisanship or incumbency protection.  On behalf of the Texas Latino Redistricting Task Force, which includes the State's largest Latino advocacy organizations, we support approval of the plans by the San Antonio federal court.”

Joey Cardenas III, Texas LULAC Executive Director, stated:  “Texas LULAC echoes the sentiments of our sister organizations in that plans H303 and C226 are not perfect but provide additional representation to Texas Latinos and are far better than the State's adopted plan.  Furthermore, Texas LULAC affirms its commitment to the African American community in that this plan protects all African American opportunity districts.  We endorse plans H303 and C226 because they will further the political needs of the Latino community in both political parties, and offer the opportunity to put redistricting behind us so that we may concentrate on the funding of education for Texas' students in the upcoming 2013 Legislative Session.  Texas LULAC in representation of the 9.4 million Latinos in Texas hails this opportunity as a victory and a step towards the continued political maturity and growth of the Latino community of today who will inherit the Texas of tomorrow.”

Lydia Camarillo, Vice President of Southwest Voter Registration Education Project (SVREP) and co-Chair of Texas Latino Redistricting Task Force, stated:  “With the newly drawn state House and congressional maps, Latinos will have the opportunity to elect candidates of choice in 9 congressional districts and 35 state House districts.   Sixty-five percent of Texas' 4.3 million population increase since 2000 was Latino, meriting the gains of two new Latino majority congressional districts as well as additional state House districts.”

Domingo Garcia, former Dallas Mayor Pro Tem and co-Chair of the Texas Latino Redistricting Task Force, stated:  “It's time for Texas to move forward with a redistricting plan that is fair and legal. Texans want government that is responsive to their neighborhoods and community concerns.  It's time we end the legal battles and focus on moving Texas forward with everybody having a place at the table of American democracy.”

The Honorable Celeste Villarreal, President-Elect and Legislative Director of the Mexican-American Bar Association of Texas (MABA-TX), stated:  “Protecting the Hispanic community's electoral voice and the right of Latino voters to elect their candidate of choice is paramount. Plans C226 and H303 are a fair balance between the State enacted map and reflecting the Latino growth in Texas.  As a member of the Task Force,  MABA-TX stands behind the effort to ensure that the court's revised redistricting maps comply with the Voting Rights Act, account for the growth in the Hispanic population and protect the rights of all minority voters.”

Patricia Gonzales, Senior Vice President, William C. Velasquez Institute (WCVI), stated:

“With these maps, Texas voters can move forward with a primary election and Latinos can be assured representation with two new congressional and additional state House seats.”

Tanya Aguilar Garduño of Southwest Workers Union, stated:  “Although plans H303 and C226 are not perfect, we are looking forward to moving into the elections and turning out Latino voters to the polls.  We will continue to fight for Latino representation and against voter suppression in the upcoming elections.”

Valentin R. Varela, Chairman of Board NOMAR, stated:  “NOMAR is pleased to see that under Plans C226 and H303 the Latino community of Texas will have better opportunities to elect candidates of their choice in El Paso, Houston, Corpus Christi, and the Rio Grande Valley than existed in the State's enacted plan.  We believe that these are substantial gains in voting rights for the Texas Latino/Hispano community. Therefore, NOMAR supports the plans.”

About Author

Katherine Haenschen

Katherine Haenschen is a PhD candidate at the University of Texas, where she studies political participation on digital media. She has previously managed successful candidate, issue, voter registration, and GOTV campaigns in Austin. In addition to serving as the president of Austin Young Democrats, she is also UCONN's #1 fan in Texas.

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