A Message From Thomas A. Saenz
President and General Counsel of MALDEF
As we come to the end of 2010, the Latino community could not be faulted for breathing a collective sigh of relief. This year saw an unprecedented level of vitriol targeted at the Latino community, and in particular at Latino immigrants, as a central part of too many candidate campaigns leading up to the November election. At the same time, the Latino community voted in record numbers, and many pundits cited Latino voters as dramatically changing the nationwide outcome through high levels of participation and support in key races in the western United States. As it has throughout its history, MALDEF played a significant role in these important developments. In particular, our attorneys have been advocating and litigating against Arizona's anti-immigrant SB 1070 and arguing against proposals to replicate SB 1070 in other jurisdictions. And, just before the election, we celebrated a significant victory in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals against Arizona's discriminatory voter proof-of-eligibility law.
As you consider your end-of-year charitable contributions, please consider support for MALDEF.
In 2011, MALDEF and the Latino community can expect significant challenges and great opportunities. First, the outcome of the elections will yield a crop of legislators nationwide seeking to fulfill their campaign promises to enact measures modeled on SB 1070 to restrict the rights of Latinos through unconstitutional attempts to regulate immigration at the state or local level. This will require MALDEF lawyers in each of our offices to advocate against enactment of these proposals and to challenge them in court if they are enacted.
Moreover, the redistricting process throughout 2011 will present opportunities in every region to build on the record Latino participation in the 2010 elections through the creation of additional districts where the growing Latino community has an opportunity to elect candidates that the community supports as leaders who will best represent the community's concerns. Of course, as with every redistricting process, MALDEF will need to be involved to ensure that district lines are drawn with due regard for constitutional and legal requirements and with a recognition of the Latino community's well-earned right to fair representation. In anticipation of this process, MALDEF will be deploying outreach coordinators and voting rights attorneys to focus on redistricting in each of our regional offices.
As we prepare for these challenges, we must continue our important litigation and advocacy work in education and employment as well. We are also re-launching a MALDEF leadership program focused on high-school-aged youth, as we continue to build on our success over 21 years in our Parent School Partnership community education program.
All of this work requires resources. We continue to rely on the tireless work of our dedicated staff, but we need to expand our staff in the face of new and renewed challenges to the Latino community. With a national economy that still suffers from the financial-sector meltdown, we must rely even more on the generous help of our longtime supporters and new friends. As you review your year-end contributions, I hope you will include MALDEF. You can donate online at www.maldef.org. Our best wishes to you and your family for a great holiday season and a prosperous new year.
Thomas A. Saenz
President and General Counsel