August 25, 2017

Los Angeles, CA - Civil rights groups and the California Secretary of State vowed Friday to work together to combat the Trump Administration’s efforts to suppress minority voting while also urging the White House to keep in place Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), a 2012 initiative that protects some young immigrants from deportation.

The call for action by MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund), California Secretary of State Alex Padilla, the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr., and Faith & Community Empowerment follows Donald J. Trump’s comments about the deadly “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, VA in which he equated white nationalists and neo-Nazis with counter protesters.

“MALDEF is pleased to welcome Rev. Jesse Jackson and Secretary of State Alex Padilla as we confront together the challenges of our times, including an unprecedented threat to peaceful immigrant families, increased efforts to suppress minority electoral participation, and an assault on equal educational opportunity in schools,” said MALDEF President and General Counsel Thomas A. Saenz. “In this summer marking 35 years since the Supreme Court decision in Plyler v. Doe, a MALDEF-led case establishing the right of all children to a free K-12 public education regardless of immigration status, MALDEF acknowledges all of the allies from different communities who are working together to defeat the most significant threat to constitutional rights in decades.”

Reverend Jackson, Sr., leader of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, spoke out against the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity established by the Trump administration to investigate baseless claims of voter fraud. Reverend Jackson said he is working to establish a separate commission on voter justice.

“We must focus on and stop voter suppression and voter purging,” he said. “There is no evidence of voter fraud, but there is evidence of voter suppression. There must be a Constitutional right to vote as opposed to states right to vote, and we must end the Electoral College.”

California is among dozens of states that have refused to comply with a June 28 request from the commission for personal data on all registered voters.

“States may have moved away from literacy tests and poll taxes, but now they’re using new methods to suppress the vote, like unjust redistricting plans and strict voter id laws,” Secretary Padilla said at Friday’s press conference, held at MALDEF’S downtown Los Angeles national headquarters. “Let’s be clear: voter suppression is rooted in white supremacy. Any leader who condemns white supremacy must also stand up and speak out against attacks on voting rights. Because voting rights are civil rights – and they are under attack.”

Hyepin Im, president of Faith & Community Empowerment, said she was concerned about the White House’s efforts to drive down voter participation and recent reports that it may end (DACA).

“Immigration policies and voter suppression policies impact all communities including the (Asian-Pacific Islander) communities, said Im. “We must all fight together for our country to move forward not backwards.”

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