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“ MALDEF AND OTHERS MUST REDOUBLE THEIR EFFORTS IN OUR NATION’S COURTS TO DEFEND THE RIGHT TO VOTE FROM UNLAWFUL DEPRIVATION.”—THOMAS A. SAENZ


legal test established a decade ago in the University of Michigan cases. Considering race in admissions remains essential to ensuring that universities can in fact, cognizant of social context, identify and select the applicants with the greatest demonstrated poten- tial for success and future contribution. Ultimately, if we focus on affi rmative action as one mechanism to choose the applicants with the greatest such potential, we will have to invest the necessary research and resources to ensure greater equity in the K-12 educa- tion pipeline and to derive fairer and less biased selec- tion criteria. Failure to do so will imperil our future national success in an increasingly competitive world.


How did your time working in the Los Angeles mayor’s offi ce impact your work at MALDEF? I learned a great deal through serving on Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s executive team, from confi rmation of the resistance of bureaucracies to modernizing change, to the necessity of debating the continued utility of longstanding government structures that developed in diff erent social and political contexts. T ese and other insights from working inside government provide invalu- able wisdom in working once again from the outside to reform government and other policymaking institutions.


What is the best method to fi ght unjust state and local laws targeting immigrants? Do you feel that Latino voters are galvanized to the point where serious reform is going to happen? At present, federal courts remain the best protectors for well-established federal supremacy in the area of immigration regulation and for the rights of all per-


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sons to live with the freedoms inherent in our nation’s constitutional principles. T at is why the work of MALDEF and others to challenge laws like Arizona’s infamous SB 1070 and local ordinances, in a number of jurisdictions, that require tenants to obtain a license to rent a home, at the cost of ongoing city investigation of immigration status, is so critically important. Latino voters have demonstrated through a number of recent


elections, including the 2012 presidential election, their strong desire to participate in reshaping American policy on many critical issues, including particularly immigration policy. Policymakers must recognize that Latino voters’ impact on electoral outcomes refl ects a desire for policies refl ecting the abiding values emblematic of our national success and refl ected in our constitution. When policy leaders fully appreciate that Latino voters will not be misled by labels and sound bites, but demand real policy change, our nation will see the adoption of more positive immigration policies.


After working on civil rights litigation for nearly two decades, where would you like to see more progress? Sixty years after Brown v. Board of Education, we know that courts can play a critical role in moving our nation closer to the consti- tutional values and policy principles that form the ideal vision of our nation, a vision shared in basic form by nearly everyone who lives here, from the most recent immigrants to the descendants of the Mayfl ower. T ough critical case decisions now come from claims under the Supremacy Clause as much as under the Equal Protection Clause, the courts’ role remains signifi cant, even as civil rights litigation is also only one of several complementary tools for social change. Progress is needed in acknowledging and embracing the critical role of constitutional litigation. Less than 20 years after Brown, the Supreme Court pushed most education equity claims out of federal courts by holding that education is not a fundamental right. We must fi nd a way to revisit or overturn that determination, or we will face a substantial headwind in our future national progress. D&B


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