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Latino activist group MALDEF wants a 2nd all-Latino district in California

The Los Angeles Redistricting Committee’s new constituency lines met with fierce opposition by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF). The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors provisional-redistricted map failed to generate a second “Latino-majority supervisorial district.”

MALDEF contends five of the County Supervisors neglected their obligation to create a second all-Latino district as mandated by the federal Voting Rights Act. “They need to respect the Federal Voting Rights Act (in order to) avoid an expensive lawsuit the county is guaranteed to lose,” said Thomas Saenz, President and General Counsel of MALDEF.

In an email, Saenz pointed to the Census Bureau statistics that showed the Hispanic population in Los Angeles County, between 2000 and 2010, grew by almost half a million residents. On the other hand, the county lost approximately 150,000 non-Latino residents. “Latinos now make up almost half the county’s population,” he said.

However, MALDEF argues that the majority of the County Supervisors “specifically Supervisors Mike Antonovich, Don Knabe, and Zev Yaroslavsky apparently oppose creating a second Latino supervisorial district. They are more interested in preserving their comfortable, current district lines,” Saenz said.

He also says that Los Angeles County has put incumbents’ preferential district lines ahead of Hispanic voting rights in the past. Twenty years ago, Los Angeles County lost a Voting Rights Act lawsuit that found some supervisors intentionally sought to prevent the creation of a Latino district. The lawsuit paved the way for the first Latino member of the Board of Supervisors, Gloria Molina.

“Now, the Supervisors are on the verge of again adopting a map that disrespects the Latino community and its population growth. Moreover, they are on the verge of violating the Voting Rights Act by failing to create a new Latino district when they know that one is warranted,” Saenz explained.

In an effort to secure another Hispanic district, the Advisory Commission received several maps from leaders that would create a second Latino-majority district. Nevertheless representatives Knabe and Yaroslavsky rejected all redistricting proposals.

As a result, MALDEF is encouraging Latino residents to call or email their representatives and make the following points;
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1. It’s just, and it is the law.Support the creation of a second Latino district because it better respects Los Angeles County’s population and the Federal Voting Rights Act.
2. Latino voters have a long memory.The Latino community will interpret self-interested votes to deny a second Latino district as hostile actions against the Latino community. Remind them that the Latino community has a long memory should these Supervisors ever want to run for future offices.
3. Don’t waste taxpayer money.Los Angeles County lost a costly lawsuit the last time it tried to ignore the Federal Voting Rights Act. Don’t waste taxpayer money by triggering another successful lawsuit.

The County Supervisors MALDEF are targeting include; Gloria Molina, 1st District; Mark Ridley-Thomas, 2nd District; Zev Yaroslavsky, 3rd District; Don Knabe, 4th District and Michael D. Antonovich; 5th District Mayor.

MALDEF is a leading Latino civil rights organization specializing in courtroom litigation ensuring Hispanics get equal access to education, employment, immigrant rights and a voice in the political arena. They describe themselves as the “law firm of the Latino community,” and promote social justice through advocacy and community organizing.

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© Copyright 2011Kimberly Dvorak All Rights Reserved.

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