MALDEF today marked the 81st anniversary of the birth of César Chávez with a call to action.
“Cesar Chavez was not just a Latino leader, a labor leader or a civil rights leader. He was an American leader reaching the conscience of the times and toiling for those whose daily struggles providing the fruits and vegetables for tables across the nation and the world had otherwise been ignored. An official state holiday in California, this day is celebrated by many communities across our nation as a day to honor the legacy of this historic leader and recognize the value of America’s immigrant workforce. It must be a day of renewal and action,” stated MALDEF President & General Counsel John Trasviña.
Chávez’s works and passion were instrumental in achieving historic social change through non-violent means. His boycotts, pickets, strikes, and fasts demonstrate the sacrifices Chávez made in achieving positive social change for underserved communities.
Today, one of the most important issues facing America is the protection of worker and immigrant rights. MALDEF follows in the footsteps of Chávez in many ways, including through our commitment to protect the First Amendment rights for workers, day laborers, and those that are most vulnerable in our country.
Last week, MALDEF, with the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit in federal court in Phoenix, Arizona challenging an unconstitutional anti-solicitation ordinance. The lawsuit challenges a law passed by the town of Cave Creek in October that targets day laborers who are seeking employment.
“The Cave Creek anti-solicitation ordinance is a clear violation of the First Amendment right to engage in free speech. Day laborers are the most visible and vulnerable segment of the immigrant population, and they and others who wish to exercise their First Amendment right to solicit employment in public places have the right to do so without fear that they will be targeted in an arbitrary and discriminatory manner and suffer fines and arrest as a result,” said Kristina Campbell, lead MALDEF staff attorney on the case.
MALDEF’s work will not be done until these and other workers can work legally, with rights, dignity and legal protections.