MALDEF staff members are at the forefront of efforts to protect Latinos against divisive and unconstitutional anti-immigrant measures in legislatures, the U.S. Congress and the courts. Nationally, MALDEF is involved in monitoring and raising awareness of anti-immigrant local ordinances and state laws in places as varied as Cherokee County, Georgia; Valley Park, Missouri; Farmers Branch, Texas; Phoenix Arizona; Prince William County, Virginia; Cobb County, Georgia; and Carpentersville, Illinois.
These misguided state and local efforts at “immigration reform” pose some of the greatest threats to a comprehensive solution to nation’s broken immigration system. Contrary to the assumptions of many, studies show that immigration enforcement at the local level does not produce safer communities. Instead, it makes it less likely that crimes will be reported or that police will get the cooperation they need to keep the peace. Furthermore, local ordinances increase racial profiling and discrimination against those that appear to be foreign or have an accent, building distrust in these communities. They also complicate local-federal relations by defying the longstanding principle that the federal government regulates immigration. Courts have repeatedly found that local “immigration reform” initiatives conflict with federal law and violate the U.S. Constitution, including the First Amendment, the Fourteenth Amendment, and the Supremacy Clause.
Our litigation, advocacy and leadership development programs converge as we galvanize and organize Latino communities around the country to educate them on the implications of the latest wave of local anti-immigrant ordinances and state laws so that they become stakeholders in the debate and help defeat these ordinances.
As a result of these anti-immigrant ordinances, MALDEF has created an advocacy and litigation Tool Kit for use by community leaders to understand the implications of the ordinances and challenge them.