FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 10, 2011
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COMMISSION CONGRESSIONAL LINES WOULD HALT LATINO PROGRESS
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NALEO Educational Fund analysis reveals diminished opportunities for state’s second largest population
LOS ANGELES, CA – The first draft Congressional district maps released today by California’s Citizens Redistricting Commission would severely diminish opportunities for future Latino political progress in the state, according to an initial analysis by the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund.
“The maps present a worst-case scenario for the Latino community,” stated NALEO Educational Fund Executive Director Arturo Vargas. “During the last decade, California’s Latino population accounted for 90% of the state’s growth, and California would have lost Congressional seats without it. The Commission’s maps fail to reflect that growth by not creating fair opportunities for increased Latino representation.”
The NALEO Educational Fund analysis [click here] reveals that there are currently seven Congressional districts where Latinos can effectively elect the candidates of our choice. The Commission’s plan fails to create any additional Latino effective districts, and could reduce the current number. One of the arguably effective districts in the Commission’s map includes a large population of African Americans, which unnecessarily wages Latinos and African Americans against each other, two underrepresented groups that have worked for decades to earn fair political representation for their respective communities.
Mr. Vargas continued, “California’s maps must comply with the federal Voting Rights Act of 1965 (VRA), which protects underrepresented communities from discrimination in the electoral process. Under state law, strict adherence to the VRA is one of the highest priorities that the Commission must apply in drawing the state’s new districts. The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) submitted a Congressional map to the Commission that created four additional Latino effective seats, in compliance with the VRA. The Commission’s proposed map falls far short of that standard.”
The Commission’s map also places some of Los Angeles’ poorest Latino neighborhoods in the same district as the wealthy western communities of Los Angeles County and downtown’s financial district. Mr. Vargas continued, “The lines drawn by the Commission gerrymander Los Angeles Latinos into a district with the millionaires of Beverly Hills and Pacific Palisades. These lines would disenfranchise Latinos by denying them a fair voice in the democratic process.”
Mr. Vargas concluded, “Californians approved the creation of the Commission hoping for a sound redistricting process that would produce fair lines for all. Latinos are California’s second largest and fastest growing population group, and the state’s democracy will only remain strong if it is responsive to the Latino community. As the Commission moves forward to revise its proposed maps, it must ensure that the lines drawn provide Latinos with opportunities for full and fair representation – our democracy depends on it.”
ABOUT NALEO EDUCATIONAL FUND
The NALEO Educational Fund is the nation’s leading non-profit organization that facilitates full Latino participation in the American political process, from citizenship to public service.
Our mailing address is:
NALEO Educational Fund
1122 W. Washington Blvd., Third Floor
Los Angeles, CA 90015