U.S. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson said Wednesday she's long been concerned that the redistricting process in Texas is done in a way that doesn't ensure both blacks and Latinos have representation in Congress.
"I'm concerned about the overt and intentional discrimination against African-Americans and Latinos" in redistricting, Bernice Johnson said.
The Dallas-area Democrat testified on the second day of a two-week hearing on whether political maps drawn earlier this year by Texas lawmakers to reflect new census data violated the federal Voting Rights Act. A three-judge panel will decide whether to throw out Texas' political maps.
Bernice Johnson, who was first elected to Congress in 1992, said she's been in a constant fight to hold on to her district and ensure proper minority representation in Congress. She said she is also concerned by attempts to put Latino and black citizens together when each group could have its own congressional seat.
"The problem is we are denied these opportunities by splitting (groups') population up, by cracking our population," she said.
She said it would become a bigger issue in the future if something isn't done about it.
Testimony in the redistricting hearing will continue this week.
Texas, which will add four House seats in 2012, redrew its political maps earlier this year to reflect new census data. But under the Voting Rights Act, Texas is one of nine states that must submit new maps to the Justice Department to get pre-clearance because of a past history of discrimination.
The department, along with some Democrats and minority groups, are challenging the new maps, saying they don't protect minorities' political clout.