Losing ground, a Latino summit looks to Fort Worth

Posted Sunday, Aug. 04, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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kennedy A summit of Latino leaders met Saturday to plan legal strategy, and almost didn’t know where to start.

“Republicans are trying to set Latinos back to where we were before 1965,” said Hector Carrillo, owner of a Fort Worth tax service and part of the Texas HOPE (Hispanics Organized for Political Education) meeting on civil rights, education activism and legal action.

“Between the Voting Rights Act ruling and the cuts in funding for schools, everything is hurting us at a time when we should be progressing.”

In Tarrant County, Texas HOPE will join a lawsuit to restore the 2012 boundaries of predominantly Hispanic Texas House District 90, Texas HOPE Chairman Joe Cardenas III said. The central Fort Worth district was redrawn slightly by House Republicans.

“Tarrant County should have strong representation of Hispanic voters in Austin,” said Cardenas, a Wharton County schoolteacher.

In one of the few tweaks made to court-drawn maps from the 2012 elections, the predominantly African-American Lake Como neighborhood was moved into the district, currently represented by Democratic state Rep. Lon Burnam.

Under the old map, Burnam won the 2012 Democratic Party primary by 159 votes over then-school Trustee Carlos Vasquez, who this year also lost his school board re-election bid.

“There are strong Hispanic candidates in Fort Worth who would have had a better chance if that hadn’t been changed,” said Dallas Democrat Domingo Garcia, an attorney and one of four Dallas representatives at the summit Saturday at the Hilton Austin Airport hotel.

That was just one of Texas HOPE’s concerns.

For another, state Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, is pressuring Gov. Rick Perry to have the Legislature consider an anti- “sanctuary city” bill allowing all law officers to ask a detainee’s immigration status, even if a city has a rule against asking.

Cardenas rolled his eyes at the mention of Patrick, a publicity-minded religious radio host and one of three candidates saying they will challenge Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst in 2014.

(Patrick briefly owned a Lewisville radio station where hosts blamed Latino activists for staging an “attack” on the station and hoisting a Mexican flag on the transmitter. Lewisville police said there was no sign of an attack and that it appeared to be a promotional stunt.)

“Senator Patrick is pandering to a specific group of Texas voters,” Cardenas said.

“Ask Gov. Perry to name a sanctuary city. He can’t. There isn’t one.”

Cardenas also bemoaned the recent Supreme Court decision limiting federal civil-rights oversight of Texas elections.

“We’re already seeing a move to do away with single-member districts and enforce a more discriminatory version of voter ID,” he said.

“Some leaders who do not want Latinos to become more involved are trying to take advantage.”

Cardenas said he’s not talking about a certain party.

“Democrats or Republicans — the transition of political power has begun,” he said.

So has the reaction.

Bud Kennedy's column appears Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays. 817-390-7538 Twitter: @BudKennedy

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