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Trial on Texas redistricting controversy begins

Minority rights groups say district maps are discriminatory

Political polarization experts were among witnesses who testified Monday in the first day of a federal trial on the way Texas House and congressional maps are drawn.

Minority rights groups say the timing of the case is critical because the 2018 election cycle is rapidly approaching.

Two federal courts this year found that Republican lawmakers purposefully discriminated against minorities in drafting a voter ID law and redistricting maps in 2011.

"It's very frustrating, but it is part of what we do," said attorney Luis Vera, who represents the League of Latin American Citizens.

Related: Hurd responds to federal judges' March ruling on congressional redistricting

Vera said that minorities are now the majority in the state and district maps do not reflect that fact.

"If proportionality is the key, then Texas should overwhelmingly have Latinos further along than we have," Vera said.

Lawyers for the Texas Attorney General's Office argue that the state should be allowed to move forward with maps drawn by the court in 2013.

Related: U.S. Supreme Court likely to hear Texas redistricting case

Vera said the case will likely be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.

"The state will try to stay whatever happens. That happens every time. So, it's the same usual pattern. It's unfortunate," Vera said. "Remember, the faucet is drawn with unlimited funds coming out of the state of Texas. So, you know I'll appeal this all the way to the Supreme Court."

A three-judge federal panel is hearing the case in the trial that's expected to last all week. 

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