Posted on August 12, 2021

Latinos’ Next Census Task: Get Money and Power Through Redistricting

Suzanne Gamboa, NBC News, August 11, 2021

Here and there around the country, Latino advocacy groups have been instructing people on money and political power — and how to get it.

The groups are trying to help growing communities of Latinos understand the next step following the 2020 census results: having a say in how their neighborhoods, towns, cities, counties, regions and states will be thrown together or split apart in the highly partisan redistricting process.


The latest set of numbers from the 2020 census are scheduled for release Thursday. They will include demographic data and should show Latinos’ significant impact on the nation’s population growth.

The census figures are the official start of the process of subdividing state populations into legislative districts. Many states have already started drawing proposed maps and holding community hearings ahead of drawing new districts that will be in place for a decade.

In North Carolina, redistricting is one of the classes in the People Power school organized by Poder NC Action, a civic education “school” on how power operates, said Irene Godínez, founder and director of Poder.

The group is targeting high school and college age Latinos and generally has about 30 participants in classes that meet a couple hours a week, Godínez said. Redistricting was a topic of one of the classes.

“We know our people were undercounted, so what we will get will be flawed because of that undercount,” she said. “Obviously we will try to make the best of it.”

The data released Thursday will give official numbers for the past decade. Based on the estimates, North Carolina’s Hispanic population has grown faster than its overall population, and about a quarter of the Hispanic increase is in Mecklenburg and Wake counties.

The Latino population grew from about 75,000 in 1990 to 800,000 in 2010 and an estimated 226,000 in the past decade, according to Carolina Demography.

North Carolina gained a congressional seat, for a total of 14, because it gained about 1 million people during the last decade. The Legislature draws its congressional and legislative districts.

New districts can be drawn where new populations have emerged, but lines for existing districts have to be adjusted to equal out population. Doing so can change the demographic, economic and political preferences of the district.


Mi Familia Vota, a national Latino group that conducted a 2020 campaign to get more Latinos to fill out the census, is launching its national campaign on redistricting next week.

For now it has been focused on Harris County, Texas, where Houston is, to influence the drawing of county commission districts.

Angelica Razo, Texas director of Mi Familia Vota, said the group is working with other communities to ensure that communities of color aren’t fighting each other for equal representation.

{snip} “The voices of communities of color … have been not just left out but actually stepped on.”

Texas gained two congressional seats and Latinos have been responsible for about 53 percent of the state’s growth, according to the Texas Demographic Center. Hispanics are on track to outnumber whites in the state by the end of the year or early next year, the state’s demographer, Lloyd Potter, has said.