Week Nineteen: MALDEF

On May 22nd the current administration asked U.S. District Court Judge Orrick to lift an injunction he imposed against Trump’s January executive order denying federal funding to sanctuary cities. On April 25th, Judge Orrick had ruled that Congress, not the President, should decide how federal funds are spent and that the executive order to withhold funding for sanctuary cities likely exceeds federal law. The administration started an entire office VOICE (Victims of Immigrant Crime Engagement) within the Homeland Security Department to investigate alleged crimes committed by immigrants. VOICE says it “serves the needs of crime victims and their families who have been impacted by crimes committed by removable criminal aliens.” Yet numerous studies have shown that first-generation immigrants commit less crimes than those born in the United States, and VOICE opponents argue the office is a means of racial profiling. A 2013 American Sociological Review study of 87 large cities found that immigration is strongly associated with less neighborhood violence, especially in sanctuary cities. A robust study in the Journal of Ethnicity in Criminal Justice analyzed 4 decades of Census data for 200 cities and found that as immigration increased, crime decreased. Here is an urgent petition from a taxpaying mother of three with no criminal record, who was ordered by ICE to leave the county on June 30th.

This week we donated to MALDEF – an organization founded in 1968 that fights for civil rights for Latinos in the U.S. Their educational and political programs create civic opportunities for members of the Latino community. MALDEF’s immigration work includes research, public policy, and litigation. On June 15th MALDEF celebrated the 35th anniversary of a landmark decision by the U.S. Supreme Court regarding a MALDEF lawsuit in Texas. The Supreme Court decision guaranteed all children access to a free public education from kindergarten through 12th grade, regardless of immigration status. The judges ruled that it was unconstitutional for the state to deny education to undocumented children, and the majority opinion further stated, “Education provides the basic tools by which individuals might lead economically productive lives to the benefit of us all.” More recently in Texas regarding sanctuary cities, MALDEF has filed suit against SB 4 which threatens removal from office and prosecution of local officials who refuse to comply with Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainers. The lawsuit was filed on the grounds that the detainments violate the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition on unreasonable search and seizure.

We applaud the vitally important work that MALDEF does, day in and day out — not only for the benefit of the immigrant community, but for the benefit of our nation as a whole. We are a nation of immigrants, founded on the principles of dignity and fairness for everyone. As Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” The racial profiling of the VOICE office of the current administration is a threat to the freedom, respect and justice of all of us. It is crucial that we support organizations like MALDEF, fighting for our most vulnerable populations.