January 31, 2018

(Los Angeles, CA) - Thomas A. Saenz, president and general counsel of MALDEF, issued the following statement today in reaction to last night's State of the Union address:

“Amidst the torrent of undeserved self-congratulation, Donald Trump continued to sound disturbing themes of nativism last night. Repeatedly invoking words like ‘great’ and ‘beautiful’ as often as possible cannot change an ongoing pattern of demonizing – and terrifying through an unprecedented campaign of domestic rhetorical warfare – immigrants throughout this country.

Suggesting that virtue – which is present throughout the nation, including among millions of undocumented immigrants – coincides with native-born citizenship, while strongly implying that MS-13 and violent criminal activity characterize all immigrants, Trump continued, in only slightly muted form, his verbal assault on immigrants of color in general and Latino immigrants in particular. In actual practice, this ugly pattern of scurrilous assertions continues to lead to regular deportations of peaceful immigrants unfairly labeled 'criminal', and his proposed immigration framework would lead to much, much more of the same.

The fact the handlers can prepare a speech for Trump to read that is slightly more subtle in its nativism than the uncensored tweeter-in-chief's usual blather cannot change policy fact. In the end, it's just lipstick on a pig. The Kelly-Miller immigration framework would take us back a hundred years; it is a nativist plan with no place in 21st-century policymaking.”

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