May 10th, 2011
Texas Group: States Should Assume there Are More US Latinos Than Census Counted

Exactly how many Latinos are there in the US? Let’s make it easier, how many are there in Texas?

It’s not that easy, at least not according to The Mexican American Legislative Caucus. Reuters reports that the MALC will sue  in federal court to make sure that more Latinos are taken into account when the Texas Legislature dives into it’s redistricting process. The idea behind the suit is that the state legislature

…draw political boundaries based on the assumption that there are more Hispanics living in the state than the Census shows.

The suit is based, in part, on the idea that the US Census cut back on it’s outreach efforts, and so undercounted Latinos. But if that is so for Texas, it must translate to other states as well:

Lawyer Jose Garza, who represents the caucus, said the lawsuit against Governor Rick Perry and other key state leaders is likely to become the basis of similar suits in other states demanding increased Latino representation in Congress, state legislatures, and on political boards and commissions.

Garza said Texas is not the only state where Hispanics are likely to have been significantly undercounted…

Garza says the Caucus does not want a new census count, it just wants the state to acknowledge the undercount and draw district boundaries accordingly. And there are a couple of things to take into account: First, that the Voting Rights Act requires that boundaries be drawn in a way that establishes districts where minorities can be elected in proportion to the number of minorities counted in the Census. Got that?

And second, according to Garza

…the legislative caucus has “voluminous” evidence indicating the U.S. Census Bureau failed to adequately enumerate Latino voters living both in urban areas and in rural ‘colonias,’ unincorporated settlements, mainly along the Rio Grande, which are populated chiefly by immigrants.

Whether the suit prevails or not, the Census Bureau has already stated that for 2020 it will improve on its outreach efforts of 2010.

Follow Victor Landa on Twitter: @vlanda

[Photo by Dave_B_]

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