Hearing To address redistricting

Texas is expected to gain at least three seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, and Valley officials are fighting for one of those seats to be centered here in the Valley.

In South Texas' second field hearing on redistricting, house committees heard what Valley leaders and the public had to say.

"We want to make sure that South Texas, and our community here in the Valley is represented fairly," said Texas State Representative Aaron Pena.

Pena said the Valley needs its fair share of federal dollars, and one way of getting that is by getting another seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.

"Houston may get a Congressional seat, Dallas may get one, and there will be a fight between the central Texas region and the Valley for the third seat," said Pena. "We believe it belongs here."

Pena said that after these hearings, the information gathered has to go through the legislative session to be debated, it may go through a redistricting board, then to the courts, then appealed to supreme courts, and eventually Texas will get its new district lines that determine who gets a new Congressman, State Representative and where they represent.

"Those things are important because our community grows based on the dollars we receive from the government," said Pena.

Luis Figueroa from MALDEF testified that based on the Census projected numbers, 63 percent of Texas' growth is Latino, and without that growth, instead of expecting to gain 3 to 4 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, Texas would only gain 1 seat.

Local officials argue that's a good reason to allow the Valley to have another representative because much of the growth happened in Hidalgo County.

LUPE representative Martha Sanchez said the Latino growth may be more than projected.

"We're really concerned that they take into consideration that the Census didn't count 100 percent," said Sanchez.

Sanchez said many people from Colonias in Hidalgo County weren't counted by the Census, and in LUPE's testimony, they asked the committees to take that into consideration as they make decisions on redistricting.

The committees will meet again Tuesday in Laredo and Wednesday in Corpus Christi to continue discussing the possibilities.