For Immediate Release
Contact: Sheridan Aguirre | email@example.com | 202.793.2267
Austin, TX – Today, the Texas House of Representatives Redistricting Committee held its first public hearing on the Census and redistricting.
Below are the remarks of Julieta Garibay, State Director for United We Dream Texas:
I am Julieta Garibay, Texas Director and co-founder of United We Dream, the first and largest immigrant youth led network. We are made up of over 400,000 members as well as 5 statewide branches and over 100 local groups across 28 states; with one of our branches being Texas. Our membership is made up of immigrant youth, some benefited by DACA, some undocumented, and majority are part of mixed status families with US citizens, legal permanent residents and not.
United We Dream is in strong support of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. We are glad to see a transparent process to ensure that the community is represented in the hearing to create fair maps that truly embody and reflect our state.
I still remember the first time I heard the word ‘gerrymandering.’ I was 11 years-old and had just migrated to the United States. Austin became my home and I was in Murchison Middle School, trying to learn English. My teacher introduced us to the concept of “gerrymandering” and I didn’t quite get it at first.
But once I saw the district maps, I became disheartened and confused. It was obvious to me that this was a tool for control. That gerrymandering was an obstacle to the everyday voter and to a fair democracy.
Over the last 15 years I have been organizing for the rights and dignity of immigrants and had the chance to become a U.S. citizen after a long 26 year process and a registered voter in 2018. Over this time, it has become clear that the way in which district maps are drawn impact us in our everyday lives, determining who gets represented and how, and when paired with the Census, eventually determines much money goes to our schools, our roads, and our hometowns.
That’s why it’s so important that we get the maps drawn right. In past redistricting efforts, Texas legislators have failed their constituents, specifically people of color and immigrants, by keeping us from being adequately represented in Congressional and District maps.
The question to you as legislators is this: How will you ensure that Texas is represented NOT by legislators choosing their maps and their voters; but instead by the diverse people in our communities, so that WE truly have a say in who represents us?
I strongly urge you to follow the Voting Rights Act and ensure that the districts drawn reflect equitable representation of the people in Texas; not drawn for the benefit of a specific party or demographic. After all, your job is to faithfully represent the people you work for and with.
United We Dream is the largest immigrant youth-led organization in the nation, a powerful network made up of over 400,000 members and 48 affiliate organizations across 26 states. UWD’s vision is to build a multi-racial, multi-ethnic movement of young people who organize and advocate at the local and national levels for the dignity and justice of immigrants and communities of color in the United States.