U.S. census data released today shows the Hispanic population in Texas increased by 42 percent since 2000, and the group now makes up 38 percent of the population.
Texas’ population is now 25,145,561. That's a 4,293,741 increase from 2000’s figure and 20.6 percent change. Seventeen counties saw their Hispanic population increase by more than 100 percent.
The numbers will be used to draw new congressional maps, with Texas gaining four new seats in Washington. The data released by the bureau also contain totals for Texas House districts, which ideally would have a population of about 167,000. With population growth changing at different rates by region, districts must be redrawn so they have roughly the same population. Of the 150 Texas House districts, 54 have populations above the ideal size, largely those in the Dallas and and Houston suburbs.
The Texas Democratic Party said the new districts should be drawn to provide a voice for those responsible for the new seats: the Hispanic and African-American communities. And it sounds like it is gearing up for a battle to make sure that happens.
“We will work with Democratic elected officials and take whatever actions are necessary to ensure that any redistricting plan ultimately enacted complies with the Voting Rights Act and restores representation for communities that were shredded by the Republican gerrymanders of 2001 and 2003,” said Texas Democratic Party Chairman Boyd Richie.
|El Paso County||679,622||800,647||17.8%|
|Fort Bend County||354,452||585,375||65.1%|
State Rep. Carol Alvarado, D-Houston, a member of the redistricting committee said: "With the Latino population representing a majority of the new growth and 37.6% of the overall Texas population, the redistricting process should provide for fair and accurate representation of this data and should expand opportunities for Latinos. The Latino community should receive three of the new Congressional seats or better and should be properly represented in the State Legislature and on the State Board of Education."
Rep. Burt Solomons, R-Carrollton, the chair of the House Committee on Redistricting, issued the following statement: "Over the coming weeks and months, the committee will hold hearings where we will have the opportunity to hear from all interested parties. I look forward to this being an open and transparent redistricting process."
Added House Speaker Joe Straus, R-San Antonio: "I thank Chairman Solomons and his committee for the hard work and attention they will give to this important task. I look forward to passing fair and legal maps that represent the make-up of Texas."
The Texas Public Policy Foundation, an Austin-based conservative think tank, said the growth is due to Texas’ healthy economy.
“Though Texas and New York have similar unemployment rates right now, that doesn’t come close to telling the real story,” said TPPF's Brooke Rollins. “Texas has added 1.78 million job seekers and their families during the last decade, while New York has lost almost 850,000. Businesses want to locate where taxes and government interference are low, and for the last decade, that has meant Texas.”
The four congressional seats are the most Texas has gained in a redistricting cycle, according to the TPPF. By contrast it adds, California will not add a congressional seat in a reapportionment for the first time since its statehood in 1850 despite being the nation’s most populous state.
The Texas Tribune will continue to update this story with more data and maps as they become available.