November 17, 2017

(Los Angeles, CA) - Thomas A. Saenz, president and general counsel of MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund), issued the following statement today in response to letters sent by the U.S. Department of Justice demanding that 29 jurisdictions engage in immigration enforcement efforts:

“Despite losing to Philadelphia in federal court for threatening to take away that city’s federal funding, the Justice Department has now sent letters to 29 other jurisdictions making the empty threat to withhold funding for having adopted reasonable and appropriate limits on local police cooperation in immigration enforcement. The letters rest on Jeff Sessions’ fantasy version of the law rather than any reasoned interpretation of the limited restrictions actually set forth in 8 U.S.C. § 1373. Further demonstrating the small-mindedness for which he has long been well-renowned, Sessions plainly hopes that his ludicrous and recurrent bluster about immigrants, coupled with the threatening letters on Justice Department will somehow convince jurisdictions to abandon their lawful local policies.

“While several of the 29 jurisdictions are large enough to have well-equipped city attorney’s offices, many of the 29 receiving the threats are smaller, without the resources to wage a righteous legal battle against Sessions’ scurrilous bullying tactics. Therefore, MALDEF is prepared to assist any of the 29 jurisdictions to challenge the Sessions bullying in federal court. As with all of our work, we will represent these jurisdictions free of out-of-pocket costs or fees, with fees and costs collected from the federal government defendants as our contingent compensation. We urge all of the threatened jurisdictions to stand by their righteous policies, and we offer our legal support in doing so.”

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:

Copyright 2009 MALDEF — Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund