Support MALDEF: Together We Will Make the Difference
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Following is the main text of this month's newsletter.
Thank you for your continued support of MALDEF as we protect and advance the civil rights of the now almost 50 million Latinos across the nation. 2008 has proved to be a turning point for the Latino community and the country. MALDEF celebrated our 40th anniversary this year. From our founding in San Antonio in 1968 to the present, MALDEF attorneys and advocates – and more recently our parent alumni leaders – have taken on the battles that are critically necessary for Latinos to have equal rights and dignity. Our work is needed now more than ever. We are poised to make progress in 2009 but only with your help now.
This year, as the economy has worsened, so too have anti-immigrant and anti-Latino sentiments. It is more than the hate calls I receive after appearing on the Lou Dobbs program. This summer, a young Latino immigrant, Luis Ramirez, was killed after being beaten and kicked by teenagers in Shenandoah, Pennsylvania. The racial epithets and threats involved in that murder could have and do occur elsewhere in the country. MALDEF now represents Luis’ family members and has made sure that prosecutors, at both the local and federal level, take his death seriously. Hate crimes against Latinos are on the rise and MALDEF’s work in court against anti-immigrant ordinances and in city councils and legislatures blocking harmful bills is needed to stem the tide. Defeating bad proposals is not enough to advance our community, however. That is why we have been the force behind national bipartisan legislation for positive immigrant integration programs that combine English classes, financial literacy and job training with tax credits for businesses.
MALDEF continues to be strong in the courtroom. Prior to Election Day, we worked closely with other organizations in and outside the Latino community to protect all citizens’ right to vote. We successfully sued the State of Georgia for violating the Voting Rights Act and made sure that citizens could vote without being subject to extra scrutiny. In addition, we sued against voter intimidation of elderly Latina citizens in New Mexico. Other litigation, to be culminated in 2009, brings relief to victims of law enforcement abuse, workers facing unscrupulous employers, and Latino children seeking long overdue equal educational opportunity.
You hold in your hands the power to make MALDEF strong enough to continue the fight and win litigation and policy battles. Over the years, we have looked outward beyond the Latino community to fund our operations. That is both insufficient and inapt to today’s times. The nation’s economic downturn means many of our traditional funders are not able to commit in the same manner, increasing the burden on us to make up for the shortfall. At the same time, the wealth in our community has grown – often as a direct result of the victories we have achieved together. Amidst all this, MALDEF stands firmly committed to continuing our efforts but we need your help now. We must maintain a well-funded national operation to effectively and efficiently respond to the growing needs of our community.
Your contribution to MALDEF by December 31 will help us be ready to defend and advance our community’s interest in this shifting political climate, elevate the enforcement of civil rights, reform our immigration laws, and bring respect to all members of our community.
Together, we will make the difference. We wish you well at the holiday season and are grateful for your support. We thank you.
President & General Counsel