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Latino groups sue Texas over redistricting plans

Latino groups sue Texas over redistricting plans
Governor of Texas Greg Abbott was named as a plaintiff in a lawsuit Monday suing the state over redistricting plans. File Photo by Jemal Countess/UPI | License Photo

Oct. 19 (UPI) -- Several Latino voters and voting civil rights groups have sued Texas over redistricting plans on accusations they are unconstitutional and discriminate against Latinos based on their race and nation of origin.

The lawsuit filed Monday by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, El Paso Division, seeks an injunction against the redistricting plans by the Texas House, Senate, Congress and Board of Education, saying they "unlawfully dilute the voting strength of Latinos."

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The organization, which filed the lawsuit on behalf of a Texas coalition, seeks a declaratory judgment that the plans "intentionally discriminate" against Latinos on the basis of their race and national origin.

According to the lawsuit, Texas was the only state to have apportioned two additional seats in the U.S. House of Representatives following the 2020 Census, which states Latinos accounted for 50% and racial minorities accounted for 95% of the state's population increase over the last 10 years.

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The census also said that Texas' Latino population will match its White population next year.

However, the lawsuit argues that despite the changing demographics the redistricting plans do not reflect the population shifts and are unconstitutionally malapportioned as they failed to increase the current number of Latino-populated districts.

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The lawsuit, which names Gov. Greg Abbott and Texas Deputy Secretary of State Jose Esparza as defendants, states the maps "discriminate against Latino voters statewide, and in specific districts, by intentionally manipulating district boundaries to reduce Latino voting strength and by making improper and excessive use of race in redistricting."

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Specifically, the lawsuit accuses the plans of violating the 14th Amendment of the Constitution and the Voting Rights Act.

"Texas has once again adopted plans that dilute Latino voting strength," Nina Perales, MALDEF vice president of litigation, said in a statement. "The new redistricting plans are an unlawful attempt to thwart the changing Texas electorate and should be struck down."

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