January 15, 2018

(Los Angeles, CA) - Thomas A. Saenz, president and general counsel of MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund), issued the following statement today, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, on Donald Trump's recent racist comments: “How profoundly troubling that on this hard-fought national holiday honoring one of our nation's greatest humanitarian leaders – in the year that will mark a half century since Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s tragic and premature death – our nation continues to grapple with a sitting president's blatant and crass expression of racism a few days ago.

By characterizing certain nations as 'shithole' countries, the White House's 'stable genius' again proved himself to be a horse of a decidedly different color, and once more revealed the moral stain on his soul. In the Latino community, we have known of Donald Trump's racism since he began his presidential campaign with a racist slur against all Mexican immigrants. A year later, he accused a respected federal judge of bias simply because of the judge's Mexican heritage.

A few days ago, Trump again revealed his racism, and demonstrated that his expressions of racial bias cannot be attributed solely to cynical political posturing or to personal pique and frustration about his business problems. The comment a few days ago exposed plainly and explicitly that Donald Trump makes policy decisions – in this case, on immigration – based on his racial bias. The implications for our nation are unmatched in their profundity.

Many have long believed that Trump policy preferences are heavily influenced by his racism, and the revelation of a few days ago confirms that logical surmise. More important, it reveals Donald Trump's unfitness to perform certain critical functions of the presidency:

  • He cannot be permitted to lead on immigration policy. Our national immigration policies, throughout history and continuing today, have been heavily tainted by racism. Trump policy preferences would preserve that stain of racial bias on our policies. We must look to others – in Congress or elsewhere – to lead on immigration policy.
  • He cannot be trusted to evaluate people fairly. Dismissing all immigrants from certain nations based on his flawed views of the countries themselves betrays Trump's inability to evaluate human beings and their potential fairly. He cannot be trusted to make fair and informed decisions on nominees for critical positions, including on the bench. We must carefully and critically evaluate every nominee he puts forward, and we must expect the same of every senator.
  • He cannot be trusted to conduct foreign policy with wisdom and well-crafted strategy. Congress and other leaders must question and probe every single foreign policy decision Donald Trump makes.
  • He cannot claim moral leadership of our great nation. Donald Trump's comment last week bespeaks a clear rejection of the principles and aspirations that have unified our diverse nation and preserved us on a path of progression and not retrogression.
While the above may be obvious to some, Donald Trump's 'shithole' commentary should confirm it for all, regardless of political views.

MALDEF looks forward to a 2018 in which our nation's people act together to live up to the glorious aspirations of Dr. King.”

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