SAN ANTONIO — The Texas Legislature has approved a new congressional map that is now waiting for the governor’s signature of approval. Critics say the new districts will help keep the GOP in power, while diluting the voices of people of color.
Big changes are coming to the Lone Star State after the Texas Legislature approved the redrawing of congressional districts.
"If you look at the districts that are drawn, some of them are very strange," Henry Flores, professor emeritus for the department of Political Science at St. Mary’s university said.
Flores, who has testified in front of the Supreme Court as a recognized litigation research expert in racial discrimination against and voting rights of Latinos, said Republicans are trying to keep power instead of addressing demographic changes in the state.
Census data shows people of color account for 95 percent of the state’s growth, and Hispanic Texans make up half of that increase at 39 percent.
"You look at Travis county, Harris county, look in Dallas, Fort Worth area, very very oddly drawn," Flores said.
Here is the current congressional map:
Below is the proposed map:
The 23rd Congressional District will now include Lackland Air Force Base and Port San Antonio, which Republican Tony Gonzales represents.
The 28th Congressional District, which is represented by Democrat Henry Cuellar, will bring in parts of downtown and the south and east sides of San Antonio.
District 35 will include downtown San Antonio, which Democrat Lloyd Doggett represents.
"With this proposal, the Republican Party will have control of the Texas state for the next decade," Flores said.
A coalition of Latino organizations from across the state have filed a lawsuit against the governor as a result of the redrawn maps.
"The redistricting plans enacted by the state legislature discriminate against Latinos, specifically because they don't reflect the Latino population growth over the past decade," Nina Perales said.
Perales is an attorney with the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF).
Perales said some of the same Latino organizations have filed a suit in the last round of redistricting back in 2011 and won significant changes.
They’re hoping to do so again.
"We'll be asking the court to look at the issues of discrimination and modify those districts that are unfair to the Latino community." Perales said.
Governor Greg Abbott's office did not respond to a request for comment.