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TribBlog: MALDEF Challenges Ariz. Law

The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund has filed a lawsuit challenging Arizona’s controversial new immigration law.

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The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, or MALDEF, has officially challenged Arizona’s controversial new law that grants local peace officers authority to detain people they suspect are undocumented immigrants.

The group is part of a coalition that filed suit alleging the “extreme” law “invites the racial profiling of people of color, violates the First Amendment and interferes with federal law,” according to the its website.” Joining the effort are the American Civil Liberties Union, National Immigration Law Center, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, ACLU of Arizona, National Day Laborer Organizing Network and the Asian Pacific American Legal Center, according to a news release.

Nina Perales is the group's regional counsel in San Antonio and was appointed to the case by its national President, Tom Saenz. Perales said that, despite the controversy brewing in Arizona, she is “heartened” by the response the bill has elicited from Texans unified in their opposition to it.

“This includes the statement by the governor that a law like SB 1070 is just not appropriate in our state. I think that Latinos and people of different races have better relationships than what they are seeing in Arizona,” she said. “Would a bill be introduced (in Texas)? Yes, because there are members who would want to introduce a bill like this here. But I don’t think it would get very much traction.”

State Reps. Leo Berman, R-Tyler, and Debbie Riddle, R-Tomball, have announced their intent to file similar legislation in Texas next session. However, Gov. Rick Perry has stated that the law wouldn't be right for Texas.

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