As we come to the end of 2011, the Latino community looks eagerly to 2012. This year saw a continued level of extreme vitriol targeted at the Latino community, and in particular at Latino immigrants, as five states enacted anti-immigrant statutes following Arizona’s ignominious example in 2010. At MALDEF, we continue to challenge anti-immigrant laws, whether proposed at the local or state level, and to file litigation to strike down many such laws. In late 2011, we celebrated a federal court of appeals decision striking down, on a 9-2 vote, a local anti-day labor ordinance. This achievement is meaningful both because such ordinances have been promoted for many years by one of the most prominent national anti-immigrant organizations, and because we have led such legal challenges for a dozen years. As we continue our longstanding defense of immigrants’ rights and as you consider your end-of-year charitable contributions, please consider support for MALDEF.

In 2012, MALDEF and the Latino community will also be poised to take advantage of the opportunities created by the 2010 Census, and its recognition that one in six Americans is now Latino. Through redistricting, the Latino community has every reason to expect increased opportunities to elect candidates that the community supports. Unfortunately, achieving this outcome often requires litigation under the federal Voting Rights Act. MALDEF is one of a handful of organizations nationally that has the experience and expertise to pursue these challenges. We have just concluded litigation around Texas statewide redistricting, and we expect further litigation in California, Texas, and other states at the local level to ensure the Latino community a fair opportunity to elect legislators, supervisors, and board members that it supports. In California alone, we have identified seven counties that failed to create Latino supervisorial districts that the law requires they create.

Sincerely Yours,

Thomas A. Saenz
President and General Counsel

Texas’ School Funding System Unlawfully Shortchanges Many Districts and Students, Including Low Income and English Language Learner Children

Last week, against the backdrop of the Dr. Jose A. Cardenas Early Childhood Center – located in the school district at the center of MALDEF’s first landmark school finance case, Edgewood v. Kirby, back in the 1980s – MALDEF announced the filing of a major education funding lawsuit against the State of Texas. Along with Edgewood I.S.D., MALDEF represents McAllen Independent School District (I.S.D.), San Benito I.S.D., La Feria I.S.D., three parents from Pasadena I.S.D., and expects to add more plaintiffs in the coming months.

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Major MALDEF Victory in Landmark Colorado School Finance Case

On December 9th, a state district court in Denver, Colorado ruled in favor of plaintiffs in the State’s first adequacy case, Lobato v. Colorado, a lawsuit in which MALDEF represented Colorado parents as plaintiff-intervenors seeking adequate funding for at-risk and English Language Learner ("ELL") students in the Colorado school finance system.

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MALDEF's Parent School Partnership and Domestic Violence Prevention Program

Thousands of parents nationwide have been trained in MALDEF's Parent School Partnership curriculum. They are now more activley involved in their children's academic achievement and in positive school community engagement. PSP parents in one small central valley town in California used the (information provided in the) PSP curriculum to successfully mobilze voters to pass a local bond, providing a safe, public park space for children and families.

The MALDEF Domestic Violence Prevention Program graduated 15 women, this year, many from the Dolores Huerta Foundation in California. The women learned critical prevention and intervention strategies, and are learning to share what they have learned in community presentations throughout the southern Central Valley region of California.

click here to find out more about these programs...

MALDEF's CREATE! Program (Civil Rights Education and Art Toward Empowerment)

This suite of prints, created by the MALDEF Youth Leadership Program’s East San Fernando Valley high school students, enrolled in the 2011 Summer Microenterprise Internship, encapsulates the lessons, development, and evolution of ten young Latino artists, activists, and leaders. The art was inspired by, and rooted in text originating from the MALDEF Annual Reports of 1968 through 1978. Students investigated pertinent themes, such as Chicana rights, prison reform, education, employment, immigration, and political access, and then gathered imagery that contextualized the text extracted from the annual reports, to provide a message, as well as a cohesive design.

Each student identified a significant civil rights’ quote that became the foundation and inspiration for their work. From there, they began to formulate their individualized artistic process, integrating new technologies with traditional methods to bring their vision to life, working within the framework and resources to sample, reproduce, and manipulate images.

Not all of the YLP young artists plan to pursue a career in the arts, but the artistic process has strengthened the voice of each one. The process was long and technical, fueled by critical thought and a desire to represent one’s self through the creative and artistic process: research, design, and fabrication.

The legacy continues, with a new generation of youth, individually and collectively, ready to join the efforts to implement programs that are structured to bring Latinos into the mainstream of American political and socio-economic life; provide better educational opportunities; encourage participation in all aspects of society; and offer a positive vision for the future. Proceeds from sales of the suites and individual pieces have earned the student artists nearly $2000 to defray college-related expenses.

click here to find out more about this program...

MALDEF Announces Winners of the 2010-2011 Law School Scholarship Program / Extends Deadline for the 2011-2012 Law School Scholarship Application!

The Postmark Deadline for the 2011-2012 MALDEF Law School Scholarship Program has been extended to January 2, 2012

LOS ANGELES, CA – To provide additional opportunity for more law students across America to apply to this year's scholarship, MALDEF has extended the postmark deadline for the 2011-2012 MALDEF Law School Scholarship Program to January 2, 2012.

Since MALDEF’s founding, the civil rights organization has awarded scholarships to students who are committed to working to advance the civil rights of the Latino community in the United States. In recent years, MALDEF has annually awarded 5-10 scholarships of $5,000 each.

MALDEF's Law School Scholarship Program is open to all law students who will be enrolled at an accredited United States law school in 2011-2012. Applicants are evaluated for their academic and extracurricular achievements, for their background and financial need, and, most importantly, for their demonstrated commitment to advancing Latino civil rights in their careers.

Applications are still available, CLICK HERE TO APPLY

MALDEF is also pleased to announce the 2010-2011 MALDEF Law School Scholarship Winners!

Paul Aguilar
Southwestern Law School
Paul Aguilar became passionate about public policy while serving as a political intern taking constituent calls on AB 60, California legislation to allow undocumented immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses. Through his experience as a political intern and as a field deputy working directly with constituents and policy makers, Paul also became committed to utilizing laws to advance the rights of people without rights. He continues working as a policy analyst to support his law school education, and remains confident that “with the right leadership and political activism”, there will be positive change in this nation’s public policies for Latinos.

Glenda Aldana Madrid
Yale Law School
Glenda Aldana Madrid came to the United States from Guatemala as a child, determined to push herself from English-as-a-Second Language courses in seventh grade to Honors English in the eighth grade. While an undergraduate, Glenda supported future Latino students by contributing to La Vida at Harvard: The Latino Guide. Passionate about rights, she spent a summer interviewing members of the Guatemalan judicial branch to further discussion of democracy and access to justice in Latin America, and later worked at the Human Rights Foundation. She hopes to utilize her law degree to continue similarly advancing the civil and human rights of Latinos in the United States and abroad.

Edith Castaneda
Loyola Law School
Edith Castañeda hails from the Coachella Valley, from a family of Mexican immigrants and farm workers in the grape fields of California. Edith has gone on to support public interest organizations that serve her hometown, including California Rural Legal Assistance, Bet Tzedek, and the Pomona Self-Help Legal Access Center. She plans to dedicate her career to giving back to her community, and says, "It gives me a great sense of fulfillment to be able to help the people who originally inspired me to attend law school – people like my family and community members back home."

Aidin Castillo
UC Davis School of Law
Aidin is now a two-time recipient of the MALDEF Law School Scholarship. A long-time immigrant rights activist, since her first award, she has gone on to represent immigrant clients in removal proceedings before the Immigration Court of San Francisco through the UC Davis Immigration Law Clinic and to develop an immigrant integration curriculum for the California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation. Aidin has been a strong advocate for equitable educational policy in California, and served as a representative for the California DREAM Network. She hopes to become an immigration attorney and one day provide Latinos “the ethical and socially responsible legal assistance” that so many in our community do not receive.

Roberto Chavez
University of Texas at Austin School of Law
Roberto Chavez grew up living in the borderland of El Paso, Texas and Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, and retains 'endless images' of trials along the border. Interning in the federal courthouse in El Paso, he witnessed many individuals in dire situations, and realized how he could assist as a lawyer. He says, "being a lawyer alone does not provide opportunities to other people, I believe in getting involved and giving a hand to those people who want to succeed". Roberto has spent recent years mentoring future law students and working with Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid as a start toward giving a helping hand.

Oscar Espino
UCLA School of Law
Oscar Espino found hope at an alternative high school, where he achieved pride in his humble beginnings and was motivated to excel academically. He has always worked hard to support himself and his family, recalling "selling newspapers and searching for cans after school" even as a child. Today, Oscar says that "education has empowered me" to become a lifelong advocate for the Latino community. While in law school, he became that advocate for Latino civil rights, and specifically for the DREAM Act, earning the respect of countless community leaders as an activist. Most recently, he served with Community Lawyers, Inc., supporting the Wage Justice Center in protecting the rights of low-income workers in Los Angeles.

Lizbeth Najera Munoz
Santa Clara University School of Law
Lizbeth Najera Muñoz says she has an “innate imposition to live by the American tradition of pulling myself up by my bootstraps”. She is motivated by her challenges, and even found working at a KFC/Taco Bell in a poor Los Angeles community an “invaluable source of inspiration” because it gave her the “privilege of knowing the personal stories” of co-workers and customers “affected by poverty and crime”. Lizbeth has been a longtime activist around immigrant rights, and works with the California DREAM Network. Through her leadership in this and other Latino student-serving organizations, she realized the value of a legal education in supporting her service to her community.

Susana Naranjo
UC Hastings College of Law
Susana Naranjo has always sought to bring attention to the plight of immigrants, having immigrated to the United States herself. In college, she sought to ensure that mainstream campus activist organizations took a stand on immigrant rights, but when some would not, she started her own activist organization, mobilizing students for the 2006 May Day march. In her service at a wage recovery clinic, Susana encountered "heinous stories about labor and sexual exploitation", and at the Restaurant Opportunities Center, met many immigrant workers who believe themselves without rights. She says the "unconscionable dehumanizing experiences faced by Latina/o immigrants fuels my desire to prepare myself to defend the legal rights of my community".

Esmeralda Santos
UC Hastings College of Law
Esmeralda Santos says "my educational aspirations were motivated by the first day I worked in the fields" at twelve years old. She has gone on to work among farm workers in her community in a new capacity, including developing affordable housing projects for farm workers in California's Central Valley. She also spent time in North Carolina organizing farm workers to unionize with the Farm Labor Organizing Committee. Knowing the importance of access to education, Esmeralda is a lifelong advocate around keeping public colleges affordable for students like her, and has organized students around financial aid protection. She feels these activist experiences will benefit her when she eventually serves farm worker communities as an attorney.

Rosa Erandi Zamora
Columbia Law School
Rosa Erandi Zamora has always sought to support younger students who came after her, whether at her California Central Valley high school, the Latino community around her Orange County, California campus, or the Latino community around her Washington Heights, New York law school. Most recently, Erandi established "Street Law en Español", know-your-rights workshops for the Spanish-speaking community in New York City, and worked with the Legal Aid Society of New York’s Immigration Defense Unit, the National Immigration Law Center, and MALDEF. She says, "I understand the power of attorneys to promote social justice and systematic change, and I am eager to do my part."

Applications are still available, CLICK HERE TO APPLY

Founded in 1968, MALDEF is the nation's leading Latino legal civil rights organization. Often described as the "law firm of the Latino community," MALDEF promotes social change through advocacy, communications, community education, and litigation in the areas of education, employment, immigrant rights, and political access. For more information on MALDEF, please visit:

Copyright 2009 MALDEF — Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund