Congress map drawn by GOP divides Hispanic communities in D-FW, diluting their voting power

AUSTIN – The Republicans-drawn new congressional map of Texas cuts out Hispanic communities in suburban Dallas and Fort Worth, placing some of them in a larger district controlled by white voters.

These changes strengthen the GOP’s grip on Congressional District 6 while weakening Hispanic influence in Congressional District 33, a majority minority seat in which Hispanics previously made up nearly half of eligible voters.

Cartographers this year expanded District 6 from a fairly compact seat in southern Tarrant County and Ellis and Navarro counties to a sprawling district that includes Cherokee County in eastern Texas and the counties more rural areas of Hill, Freestone and Anderson.

Winding through southeast Tarrant County, the redesign drew in some heavily Hispanic areas of the former Congressional District 33, including much of Irving in Dallas County.

Democrats and voting rights advocates say the crooked lines are whitewashing the burgeoning Hispanic community, which accounted for nearly half of Texas’ population growth since 2020. People of color have accounted for 95% of the population growth in Texas. the state over the past decade, with much of the increase concentrated in cities and suburbs, according to census data.

“This is a takeover of power at the expense of the Hispanic vote,” said Sal Carrillo, district director of a North Texas district of the League of Latin American United Citizens.

“It’s not only [Republicans] maintenance of power. It takes power away from the Hispanic population, ”said Carrillo, of District 21 of LULAC, who lives in Fort Worth.

Similar efforts to design solidly red seats were evident throughout North Texas, as GOP lawmakers merged rapidly evolving suburban communities with larger, whiter, and more rural districts.

The maneuver comes as Tarrant County has become one of the state’s biggest, craziest political maps. Demographic changes have made Democratic Party candidates more competitive in the historically Republican area.

In 2020, former President Donald Trump won District 6 by about three percentage points. Under the new plan, Trump would have taken the district by about 24 points. The new draw protects the first term of GOP Representative Jake Ellzey.

The new frontiers show the Republican Party’s strategy for the next decade of racing in a rapidly diversifying state. District 6 will favor the GOP in the short term, but growth tending towards Democrats could derail that long-term plan, political observers say.

“The maps move extra-rural territory to suburban neighborhoods, which will strengthen that neighborhood for the time being. But it is likely that in the future, [District 6] is going to be a seat Republicans are going to have to protect, ”said Brandon Rottinghaus, University of Houston political scientist.

“Republicans are looking for wins now and are less worried about what will happen in a few cycles,” he said.

Shift the balance of power

District 33, represented by Fort Worth Democratic Representative Marc Veasey, was designed to favor non-white candidates. Siphoning off Hispanic voters from the district dilutes their power to influence election results. Under the new plan, the Hispanic electorate in the seat rose from a 48% share to 42%.

Meanwhile, the new lines give white voters in District 6 more power over election results. The share of the white majority in the seat increased by about four percentage points to 60%. The share of eligible Hispanic voters in the district rose from 17% to 21%.

The overhaul follows an explosion in the Hispanic population in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Hispanic residents make up the largest demographic in Dallas County and nearly 30% of Tarrant County’s population, according to census data.

“You can see how the North Texas district lines are taking ridiculous shapes in order to undermine the growth of minority voters in Tarrant and Dallas counties. The boundaries of District 33 and District 6 are particularly offensive, ”said Rep. Chris Turner of Grand Prairie, chair of the House Democratic caucus, during the October floor debate.

Mapmaker Sen. Joan Huffman said his plan was legal and fair.

“I made this card fairly, racially blind, and as fair as I knew how to do it,” the Houston Republican said in October. “And then I followed the law and checked for compliance to make sure I had upheld the rights of minorities who had neighborhoods of opportunity for minorities.”

Among eligible voters, 23 of 38 congressional constituencies are predominantly white, up from 22 previously. The number of predominantly Hispanic and predominantly Black districts fell from eight to seven and from one to zero, respectively. Asian voters remain without majority control in any constituency.

State Representative NICOLE COLLIER, D-Fort Worth, speaks into the back mic while other officials wait for the Texas House to consider HB1, a redistribution bill, during a special session of the 87th legislature.

Legal battles over the redesigned boundaries are already underway. Before the lines were finalized, a Latino legal rights group sued state officials, arguing the cards diluted Latino voting power in violation of federal voting rights law.

Some challengers have asked the courts to order a congressional redistribution plan that includes an additional predominantly Latino or predominantly Black and Latino district in the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area, among other changes to the map.

“We cannot ignore [Hispanic population growth] if we are to have stronger communities that reflect the people who live there and the voices that should be heard and raised, ”said Camila Correa Bourdeau, executive director of March to the Polls, which works to empower Latino voters in Dallas -Strong value area.

“The only way to do this is to give Latino citizens of voting age the opportunity to vote for the leaders who represent them,” she said.

This year, GOP lawmakers have a clearer path to drawing and using the lines they want, as Texas is no longer required to seek federal approval on new political maps. For decades, every Texas redistribution plan has been either changed or rejected in federal court after being tried in violation of voting rights law.

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