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Latino Daily News

Saturday May 28, 2011

Latino Division Over Illinois Legislative Maps

Latino Division Over Illinois Legislative Maps

Photo: illinois redistricting

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Late yesterday afternoon, the Mexican American Legal Defense Fund issued a press release…


After analyzing HB3760, the legislative redistricting map passed earlier today by the Illinois House, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) opposes the plan because it fractures communities of interest and weakens the voting strength of Latino neighborhoods. For example, the proposed Illinois plan unnecessarily splits Little Village, a community of interest that is maintained whole in MALDEF’s proposed redistricting plan previously offered to the Legislature.


“We cannot support a map that splits one of the most important Latino communities in Chicago,” stated Nina Perales, Vice President of Litigation. “In our proposed map, MALDEF kept Little Village together, created additional Latino majority districts and ensured the preservation of Black majority districts. MALDEF’s proposed map demonstrates that the Legislature elevated incumbency protection over respect for the Latino community,” continued Perales.


MALDEF will continue fighting for Latino voters with a map that creates more Latino majority districts and that keeps Little Village whole.


* MALDEF also had some sharp words for the House Majority Leader…

“We have studied the map very carefully, and we don’t consider it a good map,” said Elisa Alfonso, redistricting coordinator for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, who declined to say whether her group would challenge these maps in federal court as it did an earlier set of boundaries in 1991.


MALDEF contended what lawmakers approved “fractures communities of interest and weakens the voting strength of Latino neighborhoods,” including having Little Village split into two House and Senate districts rather than keeping the Latino community united.


During her floor speech, Currie told lawmakers that MALDEF had requested such a division, but Alfonso angrily denounced that statement from the No. 2 House Democrat as a “flat-out lie.”

“Anyone who says that is just working to protect incumbents,” she said.


Expect a lawsuit over this map.

* But the Latino Policy Forum isn’t nearly as upset. From a press release . . .


Leadership from the 49-member Illinois Latino Agenda is cautiously optimistic about gains in Latino representation included in legislative maps approved today by the General Assembly. Unprecedented collaboration among the Agenda’s diverse city- and suburban-based member organizations has influenced the creation of stronger Latino legislative districts throughout Metro Chicago.


“The new maps represent the growing influence of the Latino community-some advances were significant, some smaller, but all important in allowing Latino voters to effectively decide who will represent them in Springfield,” said Hipolíto “Paul” Roldan, president of the board of directors for the Latino Policy Forum, the co-convener of the Agenda. “Significant among our successes was our unified effort itself. The Agenda represents agreement among nearly 50 diverse Latino groups-a strong, united voice representing a growing, diverse community.” [...]


These gains are tempered, however, by the fact that Latinos, Illinois’ second-largest ethnic community and one of its fastest-growing population segments, will continue to be underrepresented in Springfield: Latino Policy Forum analysis indicates that if the two million-plus Latinos in Illinois were proportionately represented, there would be at least 28 Latino super-majority districts in the state legislature. However, analysis shows that geographic concentration would require 13 such districts.

Additionally, Latino leaders are upset that advances came unnecessarily at the expense of community cohesion. Despite the Agenda’s advocacy to the contrary, lines were drawn through-not around-the predominately-Latino communities of Little Village, Back of the Yards, Cicero, Berwyn and Brighton Park. Fracturing these communities dilutes residents’ ability to influence their legislators and improve their neighborhoods. Some of these districts, drawn extensively across municipalities, represent a threat to real representation for Latino communities.


“Outcomes were mixed, but the process itself shows promise: Latinos and other communities of color played a significant role in determining how these maps were drawn,” said Maria S. Pesqueira, President and CEO of Mujeres Latinas en Acción and member of the Illinois Latino Agenda. “Our next step is to turn these new district lines into actual representation. More representation for Latinos in Springfield is good for all of Illinois.”