Lawsuit filed by Haitian and Salvadoran immigrants given nod to move forward.
U.S. District Judge Edward Chen dismissed a request made by the U.S. Justice Department to throw out a lawsuit challenging the cancellation of the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for immigrants from Haiti, El Salvador, Sudan, Nepal, Nicaragua and Honduras.
In the lawsuit, the plaintiffs, that consist of nine TPS grantees along with five of their children who are US citizens, claim that government’s determination to remove TPS for certain countries was “motivated by intentional race- and national-origin-based animus” and “arises from the Trump Administration’s repeatedly-expressed racism toward non-white, non-European people from other countries.”
Chen said that the “Plaintiffs have plausibly pled that President Trump made statements which a reasonable observer could construe as evidence of racial bias, animus, against non-white immigrants.”
Chen’s decision stems from statements made by Donald Trump in January, while in discussion with lawmakers on immigration and preserving the TPS program for Haitians, Sudanese, Nicaraguans and El Salvadorans. In the meeting, Trump allegedly asked, “Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?”
Trump denied that he made those remarks. According to some participants at the meeting, Trump also expressed his preference of allowing more residents from Norway to enter and thought that more immigrants from Asian countries should be welcomed.
Then in April, the Trump Administration ended TPS for the Nepalese, preceding the removal of protective status for Hondurans in May.
“With the stroke of a pen, this administration upended the lives of hundreds of thousands of people lawfully residing in the United States for years and sometimes decades,” said Emi MacLean, staff attorney for NDLON.
Now, six out of the ten countries given sanctuary in the US humanitarian program are out.
Filed in the U.S. District Court in San Francisco by the ACLU, the Foundation of Southern California, the National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON), and the law firm of Sidley Austin, the lawsuit claims that the Trump Administration and the Department of Homeland Security “adopted a new, fare narrower interpretation of the federal law governing TPS.”
On the other hand, the Administration says that the countries removed from the TPS list have improved conditions, making it safe for those who sought asylum in the US to return to their homes.
Currently, there are a little over 300,000 immigrants under the TPS program, a bulk being from El Salvador, Haiti and Nicaragua. Asylum seekers in Haiti and Nepal were granted TPS status due to major earthquakes that left the countries debilitated. For immigrants in the remaining four countries removed fromthe list, unstable and often violent social conflict leads to their need to immigrate.
Since the Administration’s choices, the solidity of Nicaragua’s political climate has faltered, as well as Haiti’s. Last month, a mother’s day demonstration against the current Nicaraguan government ended in bloodshed. At least 15 marchers were killed and 200 injured, in a violent siege by paramilitary police who fired into large crowds with high-powered military weapons. The response by law enforcement came after a series of killings and kidnappings of mostly student protesters over the months.
Haiti still simmers from an island-wide turbulent civil unrest two weeks ago against a proposed fuel hike made by the government. Now, opposing citizens call for the resignation of Haiti’s prime minister, Jack Guy Lafontant, or they promised to continue their aggressiveness.
With the recent ruling in favor of the plaintiffs, TPS-protected immigrants ordered leave beginning in 2019, now have the opportunity to shield themselves from deportation.