Thursday, April 25, 2024

MALDEF President Discusses Immigration Reform Options

Saenz Newsmaker

Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) president and general counsel, Thomas Saenz, in an interview with the Associated Press on Friday, said that he expects work on rewriting immigration law to take place next year in Congress. Saenz explained that if comprehensive immigration legislation is not possible then Congress should at least pass smaller reforms – what he calls “down payments.”

It is likely that Democratic leaders may delay tackling comprehensive immigration reform because of elections and a hostile political climate. If that is the case, Saenz believes that lawmakers can still address the need for foreign agricultural workers, provide legal status to high school graduates brought to this country illegally as children, and create equity for same sex partners who want to come to the U.S. or get green cards.

“As of right now, I have not been convinced that comprehensive immigration reform cannot move in 2010, so it needs to move. It needs to include all of these elements and many more,” Saenz said. “If that is not possible, then I’m interested in discussing this idea of down payments with a commitment to fulfill the obligation through comprehensive immigration reform that is not postponed indefinitely.”

Saenz acknowledged that immigration reform is facing a lot of opposition and he believes that President Obama may have a more difficult time tackling it than former President Bush, whose conservative beliefs made his stance more appealing to some.

President Obama is under a great deal of pressure from Latinos as well. “Part of President Obama’s mandate coming in, particularly in the high levels of support that he received from Latino voters in critical states, I think a significant part of his mandate was about comprehensive immigration reform,” Saenz said.

In the meantime, Saenz said the Obama administration should take steps to improve Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and suspend agreements that allow local and state law enforcement to enforce immigration laws. He believes that these agreements have led to many civil rights abuses, including racial profiling.

Regarding ICE, Saenz said that it can be improved in a number of ways, including: leadership, transparency, repercussions for civil rights violations and oversight from an outside group.

Along with ensuring immigration reform, MALDEF’s other priorities are: countering calls by some in the Latino community for Census boycotts and protecting Latino’s voting rights during the redistricting process that occurs after the Census.

The Associated Press


  1. I think the idea of “down payments” that Saenz presents could be a good alternative if comprehensive immigration reform cant happen next year. Passing the DREAM Act, for example, would be a step in the right direction. Lets hope the Obama administration is able to make at least a little progress!

  2. Instead of limiting options to legalizing those Mexicans living in the U.S. now, who have relatives back in Mexico who are left out, plus millions more who want to move over or have been sent back and even liable to labelling as felons for returning, why not concentrate on the Megamerge Dissolution Solution of ending the problem forever by incorporating Mexico into the U.S. as 10+ new states sans the corrupt Mexican federal govt. that nobody needs, allowing the border to go poof and free 2-way migration to begin that will entice millions of Yankee “gringos” to move south and develop Mexico, alleviating poverty? Click the url to read the whys and hows including why it should be done now instead of wasting time on temp fixes.