EL CAJON, Calif. (KGTV) - Some El Cajon residents are demanding changes to a plan that would split up East County communities and how they are represented in the state legislature and congress. Some minority groups say the new map being considered will lessen their power and silence their voices.
Wednesday morning, California's Independent Redistricting Commission received heat from East County elected officials.
"It's unethical, and it's illegal," El Cajon Mayor Bill Wells said.
According to the Voting Rights Act, ethnic minorities and people who share common interests must be taken into consideration when redrawing district lines. But Wells said that is not happening in his city.
"The people that live here are significantly different in the way that they play, the way they worship, and the way they work than the people in central San Diego area," Wells said. "That's not a good thing or a bad thing. It's a different thing."
Most of San Diego's Chaldean, or Middle Eastern Christian, community calls East County, specifically El Cajon, home. But in the newly proposed State Assembly map, the community said they would be split into three different groups.
"We won't be understood, and we won't be heard," community activist Remon Mansour said.
Mansour said decades ago, his family moved to El Cajon to flee religious persecution from Northern Iraq. Back then, he said their voices were silenced but found refuge in East County.
"We feel East County has a small-town feel where we feel very comfortable in," Mansour said.
Another proposed change is for the Senate boundary. Right now, El Cajon is clearly in East County with Santee and Rancho San Diego. But the new proposal has the city taken out of East County and in the same district as Point Loma and Coronado.
"It's unfair to split us and force us to pretend that we are we belong in the city of San Diego when we don't," Mansour said.
Mansour said splitting them up again is déjà vu of what happened to their community decades ago in the Middle East.
"You separate us and separate our votes, it's taking decades back to our community to start all over again, which is feeling like our voice doesn't matter," Mansour said.
The State's Redistricting Commission has until the end of the month to finalize its new boundaries. The maps get redrawn every ten years after the census.