Texas Republicans set to pass new congressional maps

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Texas Republicans were set to redraw US House maps on Saturday that would shore up their eroding dominance in the state’s fast-growing suburbs as voters turn away from the GOP.

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After being passed in the Texas House, the maps will go to Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, who is expected to sign them into law.

The map of redrawn congressional districts would make it easier for incumbent people to hold on to their seats and blunt the political influence of black and Hispanic communities, even as those voters drive Texas development. The new lines, a product of the redistribution process once a decade, create two new districts and make many less competitive for Republican lawmakers. The proposal does not create any additional districts where black or Hispanic voters make up the majority, even as people of color accounted for more than 9 out of 10 new residents in Texas over the past decade.

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Democrats and voting rights advocates are preparing to challenge Maps in court in what will be another high-profile, high-stakes legal battle over Texas politics – already the center of controversies over abortion and voting rights.

Roland Gutierrez, a Democrat from San Antonio, said the maps were designed to keep incumbent GOP lawmakers in power and “segregate communities of color” – those who lean Democratic – in a way that could determine the outcome of the election. limit their potential. Gutierrez said he expected to see legal challenges faced by the map’s authors alleging both racial discrimination and procedural misunderstandings.

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Texas was the only state to gain two congressional seats after the 2020 census.

Republicans, who control both houses of the Legislature, have almost complete control of the map-making process. They are working from maps that experts and courts have already declared in their favor, and the state has had to defend its maps in court after every redistribution process since the Voting Rights Act took effect in 1965. Is.

But legal challenges this round face new obstacles—the first time since a 2013 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Texas and other states with a history of racial discrimination to require the Justice Department to scrutinize maps before they are approved. Not there. The plaintiff will now have to wait to file a claim and show that the maps were intentionally intended to discriminate on the basis of race. It is not unconstitutional to make maps to get political mileage for the engineer.

Gutierrez argues that a map drawn without taking race into account could lead to three new majority Hispanic districts and a new majority Black district.

“You have clear evidence that what they’ve done is racially oppressed, so that they can reduce the vote, so that they can stay in power,” Gutierrez said.

Republican State Sen. Joan Huffman, who wrote the maps and headed the Senate redistribution committee, told fellow lawmakers that they had been “blind to the race.” He said his legal team made sure the proposal complied with the Voting Rights Act.

According to an Associated Press analysis of data gathered from last year’s election, the proposal would make 24 of the state’s 38 congressional districts safe Republican districts, with at least one additional newly rebuilt Democratic stronghold on the border with Mexico. will have the opportunity to take by the Texas Legislative Council. Currently, Republicans hold 23 of the state’s 36 seats.

Republicans with new strong gains include Rep. Van Teller, whose district of Dallas went for President Donald Trump last year by one percentage point. Under the new maps, Trump would have won the district by two points.

Representative Michael McCall, who Democrats have aggressively targeted the past two cycles, will now represent a solidly pro-Trump district under lines that exclude the suburbs of Houston and liberal parts of Austin.

And a long, vertically drawn district stretching from the Rio Grande Valley to San Antonio that President Joe Biden won by just 2 percentage points will now lean slightly toward Trump voters.

Meanwhile, Democrats oppose the new lines, which remove some of their longtime residents, even if their seats are secure. U.S. Representative Sheila Jackson Lee, a Democrat serving her 14th term, will take her home from her Houston district as well as 200,000 of her former constituents. She could still contest the election.

Texas lawmakers are also redrawing maps for their own districts, with Republicans following a similar plan that would keep their party in power in the State House and Senate. Those proposals are also expected to be sent to Abbott by next week.

Jane Ramos, a political associate of the Jolt Initiative, an advocacy group that promotes Latino civic participation, said the new maps showed a weakening of power in multi-Latin regions such as the Rio Grande Valley.

“Texas should look like its elected officials and elected officials should not choose their constituents,” Ramos said. “The electors must choose their representatives.”

Gina Castaneda, 66, left her home for Austin, south of San Antonio, early Wednesday to testify against the map. Castaneda, who is Hispanic and politically conservative, said her neighborhood is divided into three congressional districts alone.

“The way the census is going, and I’ve said this for many years, Hispanics are going to be a majority minority,” Castaneda said. “We need to make sure there is representation and that we are able to fight the battle with our elected officials.”

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Associated Press writer Paul J. Weber contributed to this report.

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Credit: www.independent.co.uk /

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