A group dedicated to increasing Hispanic representation in Congress has joined the pending battle over new districts that will be drawn this fall, with the announcement Monday of a “six figure investment” in Arizona, Colorado and New Mexico.
The money, from CHC BOLD PAC, the campaign arm of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, will go to organizations focused on training, educating and organizing Latino communities to fight for fair and representative maps, according to a news release provided exclusively to CQ Roll Call.
“Especially in key states where there has been tremendous growth in the Latino population, our goal is that we are empowering Latino communities on the ground to make sure that the maps are fair and representative,” said BOLD PAC Executive Director Victoria McGroary.
The investment comes days before the redistricting process — delayed for months by the coronavirus pandemic — is set to start in earnest with the release Thursday of detailed population data from the 2020 census. That data will be used to redraw district lines to reflect population changes in the last 10 years.
“Redistricting will dictate how Latino communities are represented in the halls of Congress for the next decade,” Arizona Democratic Rep. Ruben Gallego, the BOLD PAC chairman, said in a statement. He said the effort would work to prevent the voting power of Latinos from being “diluted.”
Ensuring that new districts are drawn to take into account where Latino communities are concentrated and projected to grow is crucial to ensuring both fair representation in Congress and equitable distribution of federal money, activists say.
They also worry that Latino communities are at an added disadvantage because of efforts during the Trump administration to put a citizenship question on the census, which polls showed could have discouraged Latinos from responding to the population survey.
The BOLD PAC money will go to organizations that are already established in the three states, McGroary said. The PAC had $5.3 million on June 30 after raising almost $3.4 million in the first six months of this year, $1.7 million of that in donations of $200 or less.
The Colorado recipient, the Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights (COLOR), has been training people in Latino communities to participate in the state’s redistricting process. Colorado, which will get an eighth House seat in the next Congress, is using an independent redistricting commission to draw its map for the first time this year.
That commission has already started holding hearings throughout the state on preliminary maps that will be revised based on community input and the latest census data. COLOR volunteers wrote letters to the commission to ensure that hearings would take place in communities with large Latino populations. The group is also training volunteers to provide testimony, Executive Director Dusti Garrison said.
“This is going to impact our state and our country for years to come,” she said. “If this process isn’t done the right way, if the community is not heard or engaged in this process, we are missing the boat again.”