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Latino Caucus draws criticism over ward map

“Why would we take less?” asked Ald. Gilbert Villegas (36th Ward), the chair of the Chicago City Council Latino Caucus (CCCLC) in rolling out a new ward map where Hispanics-Latinos would see two new wards. “We were underrepresented last time. It’s not gonna occur this time.”

On Friday, the CCCLC released a proposed citywide map creating 15 majority Hispanic-Latino wards, 16 majority Black wards, and 15 majority white wards, but no majority Asian American ward.

The plan is being met with sharp criticism.

The Coalition for a Better Chinese American Community (CBCAC) and Asian Americans Advancing Justice | Chicago (AAJC) call on the CCCLC to make history by amending their map to incorporate Chicago’s first Asian American majority ward.

In a joint statement, Asian American leaders expressed disappointment at the map the Latino Caucus filed with the City Clerk.

“Right now, Asian Americans do not have a seat at the table. Just as other communities of color have representation by their leaders, Asian Americans deserve to be able to elect an Alderperson who represents, understands, and advocates for our growing community’s needs,” said Grace Pai, Executive Director of AAJC. “To have a true “Coalition Map,” the Latino Caucus map must reflect Chicago’s diversity and create a majority Asian American ward.”

In the 2020 U.S. Census Bureau report, Asian Americans saw the most significant gain of any race or ethnic group in the City — up nearly 31-percent, at more than 192,000 people. Those numbers, along with the group’s many economic and social contributions, prompt calls for a long-sought-after majority Asian ward in City Council.

“You can’t infringe on one protected class at the expense of another protected class,” said Ald. Jason Ervin (28th), chairman of the City Council’s Black Caucus. “If the Latino Caucus chooses to infringe on African American wards, all they’re doing is inviting themselves a lawsuit.“

Census data shows Chicago’s Black population fell by nearly 10-percent, a loss of 85,000 residents over the last 10 years. At just more than 800,000, Black residents now make up about 29-percent of the City, down from more than 32-percent in 2010.

Hispanics-Latinos are Chicago’s second-largest racial or ethnic group, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The group now represents nearly 30-percent of the city’s residents, with an increase in the population of approximately 41,000.

Villegas acknowledged the map he filed is a “starting point” for negotiations, but insisted his group simply “followed the data” in drawing the lines. 

Every ten years the boundaries of Chicago’s 50 wards are redrawn to reflect population changes shown in the U.S. Census report.

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