Our History

A legacy of fighting for Latino civil rights.

Photo Credit: George Rodriguez

OUR LEGACY

The Legal Fight to Protect The First Amendment Right of Day Laborers

The growing presence of day laborers, or jornaleros, in cities throughout Southern California was met with hostility from portions of some communities across the region. Beginning in the 1980s, a handful of municipalities addressed concerns about traffic flow and public safety by establishing day labor-worker centers. Other cities, however, responded by adopting unconstitutional municipal ordinances that banned day laborers from seeking work on public sidewalks. Throughout this time, MALDEF challenged local ordinances from Los Angeles County to Agoura Hills in state and federal court on behalf of day laborers – the majority of whom were Latino immigrants. In 2004, MALDEF sued the city of Redondo Beach over its anti-solicitation ordinance because it violated the free-speech guarantee of the Constitution’s First Amendment.

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Celebrating a History of Women Leaders at MALDEF​​

Ambassador Vilma Martinez (left) Thomas A. Saenz (center) and Antonia Hernández (right).
(Photo taken at MALDEF’s 50th Anniversary Gala in San Antonio, Texas.)

As we near the conclusion of Women’s History Month, MALDEF celebrates its organizational history of women in leadership. For the majority of its existence since 1968, MALDEF has been led by women as president and general counsel. Women’s rights organizations aside, MALDEF may be the only national civil rights organization that can make that claim. We spoke with two of these women leaders, women relied upon by MALDEF through their many years of leadership and all the way up to today. MALDEF’s current president and general counsel, Thomas A. Saenz, has benefitted from both these leaders as professional mentors throughout his legal career.

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This month in MALDEF History

MALDEF is celebrating its 50th anniversary as the nation’s leading Latino legal civil rights organization. Read about our history.

Timeline

2018

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2017

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2016

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Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund