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Hispanic Heritage Month: Coalition Promotes Redistricting To Better Represent Latino Community In Congress

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New York’s Latino community is pushing for more political representation by drafting new proposals for Congressional redistricting. NY1’s Courtney Gross filed the following report.

Just like clothes, legislative districts, Latinos say, should fit the community.

"If you buy a good dress, you know from where, you know what designer to go with to fit your body. I think this is something that has the same type of scenario," says Loreen Felis, an Inwood resident.

Hispanics, now 29 percent of the city's population, are aiming for more sway in how new legislative district lines are drawn, a process that occurs every 10 years after the U.S. Census.

"Redistricting is very important because the Latino community has grown tremendously in the last decade. So, all of us want government to be a reflection of the composition and the makeup of the city and the state," says Manhattan State Senator Adriano Espaillat.

For some, that means they are going to, in the words of Make the Road New York’s Ana Maria Archila, "promote and demand in this new redistricting process that the lines actually reflect communities that exist on the ground."

And for others, it means trying to get more representatives in Congress. The state is set to lose two Congressional seats next year. Latinos want to gain one.

A coalition is drafting proposed districts in Upper Manhattan and the Bronx that could potentially shift the where Congressman Charles Rangel or Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney's districts currently are.

This coalition is looking to create a new district on the West Side of Manhattan, comprised of Inwood and Washington Heights, in the hopes of getting another Latino in Washington.

As part of that, they want Rangel's territory to shift north into the Bronx.

They say the move is about changing demographics and equality.

"Our proposal not only creates a Latino district but we also honor the African American in Harlem by creating another Congressional District that could be represented by them," says Jose Bello of the Coalition for Fair Representation.

A committee, comprised mostly of state legislators, is charged with drawing the lines.

The process will continue over the next several months and will likely be completed early next year, but for some communities, it's much more than just drawing lines: It's about democracy.

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