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Federal judge enjoins Trump from stripping legal status from 300,000 Haitians, Salvadorans and others with TPS


Federal judge enjoins Trump from stripping legal status from 300,000 Haitians, Salvadorans and others with TPS

On October 4, 2018, a federal judge in California temporarily blocked the Trump administration’s plans to terminate the legal status of about 300,000 immigrants who fled violence and disaster in Haiti, Sudan, Nicaragua and El Salvador.

In a decision late Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Edward M. Chen in San Francisco found substantial evidence that the administration lacked “any explanation or justification” to end the TPS designations for immigrants from those countries.

At the same time, he said there were “serious questions as to whether a discriminatory purpose was a motivating factor” in the administration’s decision, which would violate the Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection under the law.

He cited statements by President Trump denigrating Mexicans, Muslims, Haitians and Africans, including his January remark about “people from shithole countries” and his June 2017 comments stating that 15,000 recent immigrants from Haiti “all have AIDS.”

The plaintiffs “have raised serious questions whether the action taken” by Department of Homeland Security officials “was influenced by the White House and based on animus against nonwhite, non-European immigrants in violation of Equal Protection guaranteed by the Constitution,” Judge Chen held. “The issues are at least serious enough to preserve the status quo.”

In this case, Ramos v. Nielsen, and other immigration cases, the federal judges have enjoined the actions of the Trump administration to take away various benefits. They have cited deeply flawed decision-making by the administration and breaches of laws and regulations meant to prevent “arbitrary” acts by government.

Judge Chen did not rule on the merits of the case but instead issued a preliminary injunction so the merits could be considered. The potential harm to the immigrants — returning to their countries of origin after spending years in the United States — outweighed any harm to the government, he said.

“Absent injunctive relief, TPS beneficiaries and their children indisputably will suffer irreparable harm and great hardship,” Judge Chen wrote. “TPS beneficiaries who have lived, worked, and raised families in the United States (many for more than a decade), will be subject to removal. Many have U.S.-born children; those may be faced with the Hobson’s choice of bringing their children with them (and tearing them away from the only country and community they have known) or splitting their families apart.”

In announcements in fall 2017 and early 2018, the DHS said it planned to terminate the temporary protected status of immigrants in cases including El Salvador, Honduras, Nepal, and Haiti. If you currently have TPS, please call our office to schedule an appointment with one of our attorneys. It is important to note that this injunction is temporary and we believe that the government may prevail on the merits of the case. We will look into options other than TPS in your case to ensure that you explore all possible options.

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