President’s Message

MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund) is the leading civil rights voice of the Latino community.

President’s Message

This year, MALDEF marks its 50th anniversary.  In unpredictable and challenging times, our half century of vital and continuing civil rights work resonates as a signal of stability and power in opposition to the retrogressive forces that set new and disturbing precedents almost every day.

Resolute in our commitment to the legacy of our founders and leaders over the last half century, MALDEF continues to defy expectations in our legal and advocacy work.

Just recently, we successfully defeated a request by the state of Texas and several other short-sighted states to block renewals under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) initiative. This now-defeated injunction was characterized previously by most pundits and journalists as all-but inevitable. But MALDEF knew, from our work against the challenge to Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA) in 2015-16, that the DACA challenge is dramatically different from its predecessor, with divergent considerations for the district court judge. We prevailed against all expectations, and DACA survives.

Our work in the DACA case strongly echoes our predecessors’ work against all odds to establish a constitutional right to a free K-12 education for every child in the United States regardless of immigration status. The landmark Plyler v. Doe decision, like MALDEF itself and like the work against the current DACA challenge, originated in Texas. The historical through-line from MALDEF’s success in Plyler to MALDEF’s lead in promoting the original DREAM Act to today’s work on DACA and in support of young immigrants seeking fair treatment is clear. And multiple story lines like this can be told in each of our areas of work.

MALDEF is proud to be an organization with a profound appreciation for its half-century history, but with a steady eye on the future. We do our work with a keen sense of applying a living legacy to create a better tomorrow.

We look forward to commemorating that historical and living legacy throughout the coming months in recognition of our founding in 1968 in San Antonio.

We are strengthened in our resolve to create a better America. Thank you for your ongoing support, cooperation, and inspiration.

Thomas A. Saenz

President and General Counsel

Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund