But the plan doesn’t do enough to link people of “like interests” said Maria Teresa Feliciano, president of the Dominican American National Roundtable. “The maps proposed by the court would totally ignore the fundamentals of redistricting which is keeping communities of interest together to elect a candidate of their choice,” Feliciano said.
Ms. Feliciano is completing misreading the Voting Rights Act. The VRA exists to protect communities of interest from deliberate governmental action, procedures or laws that break up those communities or prevent them from freely participating in the political process. [Using Ms. Ferreras logic, people whose “like interests” include drinking Coca-Cola should be grouped into a political district.]
Dominicans who moved out of overcrowded Washington Heights to the West Bronx and, perhaps, to Corona in Queens, did so voluntarily. The government did force them to move in an effort to disrupt their growing political power.
The VRA does not require that ethnically linked groups migration patterns be followed for the purposes of redistricting. Dominican-Americans have not been deprived of their rights to freely participate in the political process. They are highly engaged in the local political process.
They have, in fact, elected three Dominicans to the State Assembly (Linares/Manhattan, Castro/Bronx and Peralta/Queens) and two Dominicans to the state Senate (Espaillat/Manhattan and Peralta/Queens) and successive Dominican candidates to the City Council (Y. Rodriguez) from Washington Heights as well as Queens Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras.
Their congressional plan essential links Ydanis Rodriguez’s council district with Nelson Castro’s Bronx assembly district slicing through the southwest Bronx into Julissa Ferreras council district. That is not an acceptable rationale for a congressional district. The VRA should not be tortured to sanction such an outcome.
The words of former Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court Warren Burger seem applicable in this instant.
The use of a mathematical formula tends to sustain the existence of ghettos by promoting the notion that political clout is to be gained or maintained by marshalling particular racial, ethnic, or religious groups in enclaves. . . . I cannot square the mechanical racial gerrymandering in this case with the mandate of the Constitution.