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Janet Diaz, Rep. Danilo Burjos, and AG Josh Shapiro joined the conversation about redistricting, gerrymandering, and the impact to Latinx communities across Pennsylvania. Photo: File ALDÍANews/lancasteronline.com
Janet Diaz, Rep. Danilo Burgos, and AG Josh Shapiro joined the conversation about redistricting, gerrymandering, and the impact to Latinx communities across Pennsylvania. Photo: File ALDÍANews/lancasteronline.com

Rep. Danilo Burgos, Janet Diaz join roundtable on the census, redistricting, and the Latinx community

Pennsylvania’s AG Josh Shapiro also joined the roundtable, focusing on the importance of filling out the Census for Latinx families.

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Recently, Pennsylvania’s leaders gathered virtually to discuss critical issues surrounding the Latinx community, from gerrymandering to redistricting, and one thing was clear: all roads lead to the 2020 Census.

The event was organized by All On The Line PA, with the Pennsylvania state director, Fernando Treviño moderating the event.

While yes, there is a presidential election on the horizon, the 2020 Census, which comes just once per decade, has the capacity to influence Latinx lives on a far greater scale. 

Its outcome determines integral funding to historically disenfranchised communities. It determines how district lines are drawn, and it has the capacity to give, or take power away.

And per the Trump Administration’s orders, the 2020 Census is ending early, a direct threat to a census that was already susceptible to leaving out BIPOC voices. 

“When Latinx voices are silenced through our politics, they are losing representation in our governments. This means lessened essential funding. Latinx communities are directly affected by gerrymandering,” said Pennsylvania’s Attorney General Josh Shapiro. 

He has sued President Trump to protect DACA, sued and won to get the citizenship question off the Census, and now he is continuing his struggle to get Latinx residents adequately represented within PA.

Shapiro remarked that the media continuously finds itself immersed in the weekly controversy revolving President Trump, distracting from what is really at stake.

“You have to show up to vote to make sure your voice is heard. At the end of the day, the noise and the chaos is designed to make you feel powerless, like your voice doesn’t matter or like it will never be heard,” Shapiro said.

For him, it’s about empowering all communities to make them feel heard. Getting the public to fill out the Census is one example — getting them to vote in November is the culminating event this year. 

Janet Diaz is running for Pennsylvania’s State Senate (SD-13). If elected, she would be the first Latina ever elected to PA’s State Senate.

Her district in particular, is subject to large-scale disenfranchisement should it not see an accurate Census response.

She says the Latinx community in Lancaster County has grown tremendously over the years, spurred by Puerto Rican immigration, especially after Hurricane Maria and recent devastating earthquakes.

“We’re not going to have enough resources for schools,” Diaz said. 

She remarked that especially now, the internet is critical, but not all families in her district have access to it. Compounded with a large Puerto Rican population, the language barrier serves as another obstacle.

Rep. Danilo Burgos represents Pennsylvania’s 197th district. 

He commented that the Hispanic community in Philadelphia is a vibrant one, predominantly Puerto Rican, followed by Dominicans and Mexicans, which is why filling-out the census is so important.

“Especially in districts like mine, North Philly has been gerrymandered to a large extent. It wasn’t until recently that we were able to have two Hispanic seats. Redistricting is important in relation to the census so that each community can receive the tax dollars that belongs to them,” Burgos stated, calling attention to another issue: the lack of Latinx representation in the political process.

This, too, is at stake. If the Trump administration and local enablers get their way, it will leave room for increased gerrymandering.

“Gerrymandering is actually a way of cheating redistricting,” Diaz explained. “State elected officials are able to choose voters instead of voters choosing.”

“It’s what the American democracy is all about. It’s about representing the people, not special interests, Burgos said. “Gerrymandering is un-American. It’s the number one enemy for the commonwealth of Pennsylvania.”

Throughout the roundtable, each of the three leaders echoed the same message: Fill out the Census. There is a great deal at stake. 

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