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LULAC Condemns Justice Department’s Reversal on Texas Voter ID Law

February 28, 2017

WASHINGTON, DC - Today President Trump’s Department of Justice (DOJ) reversed the federal government’s longstanding opposition to Texas’ voter ID law. The law requires voters to show one of seven forms of state-approved photo identification—gun permits are acceptable but college IDs are not.

The motion to drop the claim marks a stark reversal under new Attorney General Jeff Sessions from the Obama-led Justice Department, which joined in support of the lawsuit against Texas in 2013.

“The country’s highest law enforcement arm, designed to protect all of us, is now saying it’s okay to discriminate against African-Americans and Latinos in Texas,” said Luis Vera, attorney for the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC). “Republicans rejected Sessions’ nomination for federal judge back in 1986 due to his shameful conduct towards minority communities. It serves as a prelude to the backward steps we can continue to expect under his control.”

Although the Justice Department will no longer argue that the law was intended to discriminate against minorities, it will move forward with a portion of the lawsuit that argues that the law had discriminatory effects against them.

“The DOJ’s support has been a tremendous help, but the decision to change its legal position is not supported by any new evidence and is a complete contradiction to their previous stance,” said Roger C. Rocha, Jr., LULAC National President. “We have won many battles on our own in the past and will continue to press on relentlessly.”

The case returns to court Tuesday in Corpus Christi, Texas, before U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos. Previously expected to present evidence to support its initial claim of intentional discrimination by Texas, the Justice Department will now lay out its new position.

A federal appeals court last year ruled that the Texas law discriminated against minorities and the poor, ordering changes ahead of the November election. The U.S. Supreme Court last month declined a Texas appeal that sought to restore the law, but Chief Justice John Roberts left the door open for another appeal at a later time.

Trump has consistently publicized unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud and has supported aggressive laws requiring ballot box photo identification. Similarly, Sessions repeatedly sought to increase voting laws during his time as U.S. senator.

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The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) is the nation’s largest and oldest civil rights volunteer-based organization that empowers Hispanic Americans and builds strong Latino communities. Headquartered in Washington, DC, with 1000 councils around the United States and Puerto Rico, LULAC’s programs, services and advocacy address the most important issues for Latinos, meeting critical needs of today and the future. For more information, visit www.lulac.org.

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