January 25, 2011 | Hispanically Speaking News | Original Article

Redistricting Attorney Rios Rehired to Ensure Latinos Are Properly Represented

Once again, Hidalgo County, in the Rio Grande Valley, has hired a San Antonio-based redistricting attorney to ensure the Texas residents are properly politically represented in Washington D.C. and Austin.

Rolando Rios has spent the last 30 years fighting for the rights of Latinos, and has been rehired to address the redistricting of Hidalgo County in Texas following the new counts from the 2010 Census.

“This is going to be an important year for South Texas and Hidalgo County. The Census count an redistricting are very important issues for the Valley. They translate into money and political power,” Rios told the Guardian.

Rios warns that in D.C., when the Census Bureau issues the 2010 census count for all U.S. counties, it could conceivably undercount Hidalgo’s quickly growing population. He adds that in Austin, the state’s lawmakers will use the new population information from the census to redraw the boundaries of state and congressional districts. If the population was not counted properly, Hidalgo could lose a congressional seat.

“Every decade, 1970, 1980, 1990, and 2000, the state of Texas has redistricted in ways that have discriminated against Latinos,” Rios said. “Every decade we have had to go to federal court and every decade we have found them to violate the rights of Latinos.”

Rios has been hired to make sure that, if the Census Bureau reports Hidalgo County has a lower population than correct, discussions are had and the numbers are updated.

The fear of an undercount comes from the fact that the Census Bureau failed to send census forms to no less than 100,000 colonia residents of Hidalgo County.

“I believe the colonias provide some peculiarities that the Census Bureau may not be attuned to,” Rios said. “We have to see if there are flaws in that and make sure the rights of that community are properly protected. People in Washington sometimes do not understand the peculiarities of the border area.”