- Mission Statement
"Promote social change through advocacy, communications, community education, and litigation in the areas of education, employment, immigrant rights, and political access."
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.
MALDEF strives to implement programs that are structured to bring Latinos into the mainstream of American political and socio-economic life; providing better educational opportunities; encouraging participation in all aspects of society; and offering a positive vision for the future. Unique to MALDEF is an approach that combines advocacy, educational outreach, and litigation strategies to achieve socio-economic change.
MALDEF was founded in 1968 during one of America’s darkest hours with the assassinations of Dr. Martin Luther King and Senator Robert F. Kennedy, two of our nation’s greatest civil rights advocates. A ray of hope for the community, MALDEF sought to fulfill the critical needs for the nation’s growing Latino community through litigation, advocacy and leadership development on issues that affected children and newcomers. MALDEF’s victory in the historic voting rights case White v. Regester, significantly raised the value of the Latino vote by safe-guarding communities from at-large redistricting systems. In another landmark case, MALDEF attorneys successfully secured free public education for all school children, regardless of their parent’s immigration status.
MALDEF has achieved significant legal victories with the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case, Plyler v. Doe. The Court struck down a Texas law that allowed districts to charge tuition to children of undocumented immigrant parents. MALDEF’s victory opened school doors to all students equally. In 2006, the U.S. Supreme Court heard seven challenges to a Texas Congressional redistricting plan. Only MALDEF’s prevailed. The New York Times described it as “the most important voting rights case of the decade, rejecting the statewide gerrymandering claim brought by…other plaintiffs while accepting the Voting Rights Act challenge in Southwestern Texas, brought by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund.” The case resulted in new lines drawn for the 23rd Congressional District and a special election (where a MALDEF suit opened the polls early) resulting in the Latino community having the opportunity to elect its candidate of choice to Congress.
MALDEF is headed by a President and General Counsel and is governed by a 30-member national Board of Directors. Headquartered in Los Angeles, MALDEF operates four regional offices in Los Angeles, San Antonio, Chicago, and Washington, D.C.