Hispanic lawmakers file redistricting lawsuit in Texas
By Jimmy Ardis
Earlier this week The Mexican American Legislative Caucus filed a lawsuit against the state of Texas requesting that redistricting measures be halted due to alleged misrepresentation of Hispanics. The group claims that rural border communities coined colonias, inhabited largely by poor illegal immigrants, were undercounted because the Census Bureau did not mail forms out to members of the 800 to 1,200 colonias. A spokeswoman for the governor’s office says they have received the litigation and will not be commenting on the issue while the matter is still pending.
The lawsuit seeks to halt redistricting maps currently being drawn by the Texas Legislature. The maps, once finalized, will legally define political lines and representation in Texas for the United States House of Representatives, the Texas House of Representatives, the Texas State Senate and the State Board of Education until the next decennial Census.
Judge Ramon Garcia, of Hidalgo County -- one of the affected areas -- is preparing action against the U.S. Census Bureau over similar concerns. He believes that "the census tally of about 750,000 county residents was short by as many as 250,000 people, an undercount that could mean $300 million to $400 million in lost federal funding for education, health care and infrastructure."
A spokeswoman for the U.S. Census Bureau tells the Houston Chronicle that any errors would have the chance to be resolved in 2012 through the Census Coverage Measurement Program and the Count Question Resolution Program. If the population errors alleged in the suit are real, they could potentially have significant implications for the redistricting process in Texas. Whether or not the errors are rectified and accounted for during the redistricting process could impact the political representation of Hispanics in Texas for the coming decade.