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Redistricting lawsuits focus on Hispanics

June 7, 2011 at 8:43 AM   |   Comments

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill., June 7 (UPI) -- Republicans in Illinois and Democrats in Texas indicated they will challenge redistricting efforts, aiming to boost their states' Hispanic-majority districts.

The pending Illinois and Texas legal challenges to the states' redistricting efforts offer key tests of the surging Hispanic population and its demand for more political influence -- while benefiting the parties that drew the maps, Politico reported Tuesday.

The 2010 Census showed 50.5 million Hispanics and 38.9 million blacks, compared with 35.3 million Hispanics and 34.7 million blacks in 2000.

The lawsuits won't be filed until Govs. Pat Quinn of Illinois, a Democrat, and Rick Perry of Texas, a Republican, sign the redistricting measures into law, which observers say could happen within a couple of weeks.

"We are very concerned that this proposal does not fairly represent the significant growth that has occurred in the Hispanic community," Illinois' 11 House Republicans wrote in a statement May 27 after Democrats released their plan. "We will take whatever steps (are) necessary to achieve a map that more fairly represents the people of Illinois."

One Illinois House Republican, speaking anonymously, said the lack of a second Hispanic district likely will be the basis for the GOP's challenge, Politico said.

"Our goal is districts that are drawn fair and balanced," the lawmaker said.

In Texas, Democrats are waiting for the outcome of the Legislature's special session and details of the Republican plan, which doesn't include any Hispanic-majority districts, Politico said.

The Mexican-American Legal Defense and Education Fund, actively involved in redistricting, criticized both plans. It gave Texas Republicans an "F" for their redistricting map and criticized Illinois' Democratic Legislature for dividing Latino neighborhoods and elevating "incumbency protection over respect for the Latino community," said Nina Perales, the organization's director of litigation.

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