DIVIDED AMERICA: Minorities Missing in Many Legislatures
As Virginia's only Latino state lawmaker, Alfonso Lopez made it his first order of business to push for a law granting in-state college tuition to immigrants living in the U.S. illegally since childhood.
The bill died in committee.
So Lopez tried again the next year. And the year after that.
Now, in his fifth year in office, Lopez is gearing up for one more attempt in 2017.
"If we had a more diverse (legislature) and more Latinos in the House of Delegates," he says, "I don't think it would be as difficult."
America's government is a lot whiter than American itself, and not just in Virginia.
While minorities have made some political gains in recent decades, they remain significantly underrepresented in Congress and nearly every state legislature though they comprise a growing share of the U.S. population, according to an analysis of demographic data by The Associated Press. The disparity in elected representation is especially large for Hispanics, even though they are now the nation's largest ethnic minority.