Texas gained two congressional seats after the 2020 U.S. census, thanks to a decade of explosive growth. But while 95 percent of that growth is attributable to new Black, Latino, and Asian residents, The Texas Tribune reports, the Texas Legislature gave final approval Monday night to a new congressional map that gives "white voters effective control of both" new districts. Gov. Greg Abbott (R) is expected to sign off on the new maps.
In fact, voters of color lost representation under the new map, drawn by the Republicans who control the entire Texas redistricting process. The new map includes seven majority Latino districts, down from eight, and zero majority Black districts, down from one. The state gained almost 11 new Hispanic residents for every white resident over the past decade, the Tribune notes, and half the 4 million new Texans in the 2020 census are Latino. There are now roughly equal numbers of white and Latino residents of Texas.
"This year's political mapmaking marks the first time in nearly half a century that Texas lawmakers are free to redraw the state's maps without federal oversight meant to protect voters of color from discrimination," the Tribune reports. "The Republicans who led the redistricting process offered little defense of the maps from the Senate and House floors before the final votes," but they have previously said they are complying with federal law and pursuing a partisan, not racial, gerrymander. Civil rights groups are already suing the state, claiming violations of the Voting Rights Act.
On the partisan front, the Republican maps "protect their slipping grip on Texas by pulling more GOP-leaning voters into suburban districts where Democrats have made inroads in recent years," The Associated Press reports. The map appears to focus on fortifying GOP incumbents rather than maximizing GOP numbers through carving narrowly Republican districts. Still, Republicans will win one or both of the new districts, giving them 24 or 25 seats out of 38, up from their current 23 out of 36 districts.
"What we're doing in passing this congressional map is a disservice to the people of Texas," and "it's shameful," state Rep. Rafael Anchía (D) told his colleagues before the vote. "I'd love to be able to say it is a stain on the legacy of voting rights, but that seems to be the playbook decade after decade after decade in this state."