MALDEF'S "Latino State of the State" Signals Return of National Latino Organization to Full-Time Advocacy in Sacramento

Leading Latino Legal Civil Rights Organization Hosts Inaugural California Event, Outlining 2011 Public Policy Priorities and Legal Challenges for Latinos in California

SACRAMENTO, CA – On Wednesday, March 23, 2011, MALDEF, the nation's leading legal civil rights organization, hosted the inaugural "Latino State of the State: The 1st Annual Roundtable on Law, Policy and Civil Rights in California." The event served as the first major convening of MALDEF's Sacramento Policy Office since it reopened in 2010.

Held at the Citizen Hotel in Sacramento, the "Latino State of the State" featured a cross-section of top national experts and leaders on a range of issues facing the Latino community in 2011, including state implementation of health care reform and special health-related topics, K-12 education and higher education, immigrant rights, and labor rights.

Thomas A. Saenz, MALDEF President and General Counsel, stated "In 2011, California has a historic opportunity to lead the entire nation by shining example through acting to further ensure the civil and human rights of all Californians and, by doing so, to guarantee future prosperity for this great state."

At the 2011 "Latino State of the State," MALDEF President and General Counsel Thomas A. Saenz delivered the keynote address, outlining MALDEF's public policy priorities for California, as well as the legal opportunities and challenges facing Latinos in state and in the nation.

"The Latino State of the State is an opportunity to set the stage for a pro-active immigrant rights agenda and to send a strong message that Latinos are a critical part of our nation's fabric," stated MALDEF Legislative Staff Attorney Jeannette Zanipatin. "California must continue to set the trend to protect the rights of all Latinos and immigrants, and to ensure that the generations that proceed us have the same opportunities in education, health, voting and labor as the rest to succeed in the U.S."

Panel participants at the 2011 Latino State of the State included: Richard Figueroa, Director, Health & Human Services, The California Endowment; Michele Siquieros, Executive Director, Campaign for College Opportunity; and Maria Elena Durazo, Executive Secretary-Treasurer, Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO.

The moderator for the 2011 Latino State of the Union was Val Zavala, Vice President of News and Public Affairs at KCET, the West Coast Flagship Station for PBS. Val Zavala also serves as the Anchor of KCET's Weekly Award-Winning Newsmagazine, SoCal Connected.

MALDEF's Latino State of the State provided an opportunity for the civil rights organization to set the stage for many of the issues, challenges, and opportunities that lie ahead for the Latino community at the state level. Moving forward, MALDEF's Sacramento Policy Office will continue to focus on the following areas with regards to Latinos in California: (1) Immigrant and Civil Rights; (2) Education (both K-12 and higher education); (3) Voting rights and Redistricting; and (4) Health-related issues.

Photographs from MALDEF's 2011 Latino State of the State are available here:
Photographs are courtesy of John Decker.

Founded in 1968, MALDEF is the nation's leading Latino legal civil rights organization. Often described as the "law firm of the Latino community," MALDEF promotes social change through advocacy, communications, community education and litigation in the areas of education, employment, immigrant rights and political access. For more information on MALDEF, please visit:

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