Latinos Continue As GOP Political Football

Whether it’s immigration, the culture and language war, and representation (redistricting), the Republicans have used these issues to kick around Latinos.

Today, GOP Texas Attorney General Abbott proposed a Congressional map that seems to have some agreement among the parties, according to the Trib, but negotiations still stalled. I think Mexican American Legislative Caucus Chair Trey Martinez Fischer explained it well:

MALC worked in good faith with General Abbott in hopes of arriving at a compromise that reflected the changing diversity of our state in a manner acceptable to all parties.  Unfortunately negotiations stalled when it became apparent some parties in these discussions had a narrow and at times unrealistic view of the evidence presented at trial.  The maps proposed by the Attorney General today are a beginning point, not an end.

MALC has maintained from day one that minority rights should not be subordinated in order to facilitate political expediency.  We have presented a fair plan that recognizes the growth of the Latino and African American community while at the same time eliminating discriminatory tactics used by the State to disenfranchise the minority community.

As we have said before, MALC and the redistricting plaintiffs have presented a compelling case at trial in both San Antonio and in Washington, D.C.  We will not compromise our principles for the sake of expediency and will not be forced into a resolution that fails to recognize the fundamental fact that Texas’ growth is minority growth.  We are confident that the evidence presented at trial demonstrates that Texas’ maps violate both Section 5 and Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.

The Attorney General presents an illusion of an inclusive map; the reality is that it falls short of recognizing minority growth in Texas.  For instance in CD 23, the compromise district clearly performs worse than it had in the benchmark map.  No one needs to be reminded that the candidate of choice of the minority community failed to win election in the benchmark map in 2010.  MALC could not accept a CD 23 that is worse off than it was in the benchmark map, considering that reality.  While all the parties support a primary as soon as possible, we want to ensure that Texans have fair and legal redistricting maps.  MALC is encouraged that with the issuance of these maps the Attorney General has made it clear that he accepts the growing reality that the maps adopted by the state legislature for the state house, state senate, and United States Congress were constitutionally-flawed and require immediate remedial action.”

In other words, Latinos are still a political football being kicked around by the Republicans.

The Trib has links to the maps:

The proposed maps are posted on the Texas Legislative Service’s website; the plans are numbered C226S167, and H303.

Obviously, we’re not done going through all the muck and mud, so that’s just one first take from all of this.

Apparently, the one guy who got into the muck and mud of all of this was Congressman Henry Cuellar of Laredo. And the Lone Star Project wasted no time in telling us how they feel:

Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott is seeking cover for his cynical proposal by citing the support of one plaintiff group and opportunistic elected officials like Congressman Henry Cuellar. Henry Cuellar, of course, has a long history of betraying Latino voters and his constituents to appease high-level Republicans. During the 2001 and 2003 Texas redistricting battles, Cuellar aligned himself with Tom DeLay.

In response, prominent groups who oppose the AG’s plan filed a formal advisory with the San Antonio Federal Court earlier today. Among others, they include, the National Office of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), the NAACP, the Gonzales Plaintiffs and the Quesda/Veasey Plaintiffs. A copy of their advisory to the Court can be seen here.  The Mexican American Legislative Caucus also opposes the AG’s plan. The MALC statement can be seen here.

Under the current congressional plan, minority voters have the opportunity to elect their candidate of choice in 11 of 32 districts, or 34.4 percent. Under the AG’s proposed interim plan, the number is likely reduced to only 11 of 36 districts, which is only 30.5 percent. Abbott’s proposal is another example of Texas Republican leaders choosing to attack and reduce the voting strength of Texas Hispanics and African Americans rather than treating the communities with respect and simply working to earn their votes.

From the beginning, the AG has refused to negotiate with all parties and now is playing fast and loose with press statements purporting to have more support than actually exists.

Yes, more muck and mud to get through. And probably a helluva lot more press releases to come. (BOR has a great collection of the ‘em)

UPDATE:  Here’s a statement from the only LULAC voice I like hearing from, Joe Cardenas, III.

…we feel that a compromise exists for both parties. Today is a victory for the public school children of Texas if the courts agree to adopt these maps. The Attorney General’s office has already stated that they feel that these maps were acceptable for the next decade! This means that Texas LULAC can exert all its effort to securing fair-funding for Texas schools, address the inequitities of high-stakes testing, and put an end to the structual deficit that exists in Texas. Texas LULAC will not play politics with the education of Texas’ children of which 50.2% are Latino in public education. Luis Vera and National LULAC have already stated that it does not agree with this stance and that they favor continuing legal proceedings. We don’t necessarily oppose that, but we will not pass up the opportunity to end this fight in favor of better representation, having lines for the next 10 years, and the chance to address education in a meaningful way. I want all of you to know that all of this has happened because you have made it possible. Neither political party is happy with us, and that’s OK, but both parties know who Texas LULAC is and what we are capable of doing!

That’s from the side that seems to agree, and here’s a link to the MALDEF and Redistricting Task Force response to the maps.

Thomas A. Saenz, President and General Counsel of MALDEF, stated: “Redistricting is amessy process of competing interests and concerns, perhaps nowhere messier than in Texas.Our role has always been to ensure that the Latino community has a fair opportunity to electcandidates of choice in nine congressional districts and in 35 state House districts. We arepleased that the state of Texas finally recognizes its legal obligation to provide a map meeting these parameters.”

Still, without full agreement from all parties, the SA Federal Court will not budge, it seems. Of course, whether the court give more weight to civil rights groups than political parties will be the next debate we should have in the meantime.

More reaction from:   PDiddieGregBurka, Kuff, and Robert Miller. And Juanita Jean, too.

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One response to “Latinos Continue As GOP Political Football

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