Mexican American Legal Education and Defense Fund
MALDEF has been heavily involved in the development of census procedures and racial and ethnic identification questions and has manipulated these issues to maximize the political power of MALDEF and its allies. The development of Hispanic as a distinct ethnicity in federal statistics dates back to the 1970 census period, when the Nixon administration requested Hispanic identification on the partially released “long-form” questionnaire. This was not enough for MALDEF: the organization urged the Carter administration to add a question on Hispanic ethnicity to the main response form for the 1980 census, which it did. The effort was explicitly political: the reclassification of Hispanics as a separate statistical category paved the way for ethnic gerrymandering and gave MALDEF and other advocacy groups the opportunity to seek additional federal funding for the interests of the ethnic groups they championed.  This was not the last time that MALDEF brought an action on equal opportunities in education. In LULAC et al. v. Richards et al., a 1987 class action lawsuit, accused the state of Texas of discriminating against Mexican Americans in South Texas for insufficient college funding. In the University of Texas system, UT`s Austin campus (historically the campus frequented by more children of the state`s elite) actually received more funding than all other campuses combined. The jury found the state not guilty of discrimination, but found that the legislature had not established “world-class” colleges and universities elsewhere in the state. To avoid further embarrassing lawsuits, the legislature passed the South Texas Initiative to improve the schools in the University of Texas system in Brownsville, Edinburgh, San Antonio, and El Paso, and the Texas A&M university system in Corpus Christi, Laredo, and Kingsville. The Higher Education Council of the border region contributed to the adoption of the legislation and monitored the progress of the programme.
Today, the situation has improved somewhat, although UT Austin still receives a disproportionate share of funding. [ref. MALDEF has received funding from other left-wing organized interests: the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) United Healthcare Workers-West provided $40,000 to MALDEF in 2017, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) provided $7,500 this year, and the National Education Association provided $15,000 in 2016.  LIIP fellows and interns will work on important issues related to immigration rights, education, policy access, and employment. MALDEF treats cases that have the greatest impact on the Latin American community. In addition to lobbying, litigation and immigration advocacy, MALDEF also sponsors the California Immigrant Youth Justice Alliance (CIYJA). CIYJA, like MALDEF, has taken an activist approach to obtaining legal status for all illegal immigrants in the state; The group disrupted the events of House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to avoid compromises on strengthening border security in exchange for legal status and a path to citizenship for immigrants present illegally.  Thomas Saenz is President and Advocate General of MALDEF. Prior to assuming this position in 2009, Saenz worked in the administration of Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa (D); The Los Angeles Times called Saenz “the closest adviser” to Villaraigosa. He had worked as a staff lawyer for MALDEF before joining the administration of Villaraigosa in 2005.  In 2009, President Barack Obama reportedly considered appointing Saenz to a Justice Department position, but he withdrew for fear of being perceived as too friendly with illegal immigrants.  California Governor Jerry Brown (D) also considered Saenz for a seat on the California Supreme Court.
 During its first three years of existence, MALDEF mainly dealt with mutual legal assistance cases. MALDEF then participated in cases of workplace discrimination and school funding with LDF, including Supreme Court cases through memoranda from friends of the court. Demetrio Rodriguez et al. v. The San Antonio Independent School District was a defeat because the court ruled against equal funding for education. White, et al. v. Regester et al. was an important victory.
The case created one-man districts for Texas County, City Council, and school districts, and ended the general vote that had weakened minority voting power. In 1989, MALDEF won in the Edgewood Independent School District v. State of Texas. The Texas Supreme Court declared state funding for education unconstitutional and ordered the legislature to change it.  This led to the “Robin Hood” funding system, which required wealthier school districts to donate to a fund for poorer districts. However, this did not lead to equality in education, as wealthy districts could choose to spend even more on themselves. Since the 1980s, MALDEF has filed a series of lawsuits seeking legal status for illegal immigrants. In 2016, MALDEF Attorney General Thomas Saenz argued before the Supreme Court to defend the Obama administration`s executive actions to grant legal status to illegal immigrant parents of U.S.
citizens and lawful permanent residents (DAPA was ordered by federal courts before it went into effect and was repealed by the Trump administration).  The organization has also received significant funding from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Marguerite Casey Foundation, the Public Welfare Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the California Endowment, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the Evelyn and Walter Haas Jr. Fund, and the Arcus Foundation. The BP America oil company training also provided MALDEF with $500,000 in 2009, and MALDEF significantly supported Anheuser-Busch`s training in 2009 and 2010.  MALDEF itself has funded a number of organizations engaged in ideological outreach and political activation of left-wing Hispanics as part of an “endowment grant to promote the national political empowerment of Latinos.”  Organizational recipients of MALDEF grants include the Syndicated Labor Council for the Advancement of Latin America, the National Party Workers Organization Network, the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda, and the pro-abortion Latin Institute for Reproductive Health.  MALDEF continues to work in the legal field and puts pressure on Congress. The organization campaigned against the appointment of Jeff Sessions, a prominent supporter of immigration restrictions, as attorney general;  sued to protect the privileges of cities that do not cooperate with federal immigration authorities;  and resisted the Trump administration`s efforts to ask questions about the citizenship status of census participants.
 In 2018, MALDEF sued Procter and Gamble and Allied Wealth for allegedly refusing to hire workers who had been subject to deferred deportation orders under the Obama administration`s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and who had been placed in a legal limbo following the Trump administration`s attempts to suspend it.  In 1974, MALDEF President Vilma Martinez founded the Chicana Rights Project (CRP).  The project focused on the unique legal issues of Mexican-American women.