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Oct 9, 2014

Commitment Comes on Heels of Convening To Reflect on the 20th Anniversary of Anti-Immigrant Legislation in California

PHOENIX, AZ - The Latino Victory Foundation, Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, National Education Association, and Labor Council For Latin American Advancement/National Hispanic Leadership Agenda gathered today to mobilize Latino voters across the nation to fight anti-immigrant efforts. The organizations drew parallels between anti-immigrant laws in Arizona and California's Proposition 187 enacted 20 years ago, which electrified the Latino voting bloc across the state. With more Latinos eligible to vote than in previous elections, the organizations are committed to educating voters on their right to vote.

Recent Arizona legislation such as Arizona Senate Bill 1070 (SB 1070), and similar efforts in other states such as Oregon, Kansas and Georgia, target the nation's growing Latino population, and the organizations will discuss ways that these laws can be used to motivate the record number of eligible Latino voters to engage in the political process so that their voices are heard.

Proposition 187 passed in 1994 in California, and was designed to drive immigrants from the state by preventing access to critical social services, including public education, and by effectively deputizing all public servants to enforce immigration laws. The California law, the vast majority of which was eventually held unconstitutional, ushered in significant political change, including mobilizing the Latino population in the state.

"Proposition 187 unleashed a tidal wave of intolerant laws aimed at hurting children, demonizing families and pushing communities into the shadows of society," said NEA President Lily Eskelsen García. "We did not tolerate politicians turning public schools into hate factories then and we will not sit silently now and allow them to use our students for political gain. We will continue to stand up for our students, families and our communities so that every child is safe, respected and loved."

"Arizona is ground zero for anti-Latino policy. In response, Arizona has seen some of the biggest gains in Latino voter participation," said John Loredo, Director of the Arizona Donor Collaborative.

"In an attempt to peel back pro-immigrant state policies, anti-immigrant efforts targeted Oregon by referring Oregon's new driver card law to the ballot. This will be the first and only popular vote on the driver license issue in the nation. It's now more important than ever to register and turnout Latino voters on this critical immigrant rights issue," said Andrea Miller, Executive Director of Causa.

"The victorious fight against Proposition 187 is a monumental example of self-leadership, self-advocacy and self-determination. All American attributes," said Henry R. Muñoz III, Co-Founder of the Latino Victory Foundation. "At this moment in our country's history, we cannot be afraid, we cannot leave this in anyone else's hands: together with our allies, we must demand change and determine our own success and our own future."

"Proposition 187, the most virulently anti-immigrant law of its day, catalyzed a sea change in California politics, to the point that the state is currently one of the most immigrant-friendly in the nation," stated Thomas A. Saenz, MALDEF President and General Counsel and a lead lawyer in the challenge to Proposition 187. "We should begin to see a similar change in Arizona and states across the nation, and strategizing together to increase Latino civic participation can accelerate that much-needed change."

"Latinos have an opportunity to fight back this midterm against the repeated attacks on our community. Anti-immigrant politicians and candidates expect our community to not show up to the polls. Their repeated attempts to water down key voting protections that disenfranchise our community has not stopped us from mobilizing Latinos to vote this election cycle. We remain committed to showing politicians and candidates that Latinos will keep them accountable at the ballot box and they will not silence our community," said Hector Sanchez, Executive Director of the Labor Council For Latin American Advancement/National Hispanic Leadership Agenda.

Founded in 1968, MALDEF is the nation's leading Latino legal civil rights organization. Often described as the "Latino Legal Voice for Civil Rights in America" 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:


For all media inquiries, please contact Larry Gonzalez.