Trump’s alleged S-Hole comment, made in reference to Haiti, El Salvador, and African nations came back to bite him Wednesday after U.S. District Judge Edward Chen determined the administration violated the Equal Protection Clause by basing its decision to end Temporary Protected Status (TPS), for Haitians, Central Americans and Africans, “on animus against non-white, non-European immigrants.”
Judge Chen ruled that the administration may have side-stepped federal rule-making guidelines, imposed undue political pressure on staffers and ordered they temporarily halt plans to end the program that has allowed hundreds of thousands of immigrants from Haiti, Central America and Africa to legally live and work in the U.S. for decades.
The ruling is the latest blow against Trump’s efforts to overhaul the nation’s immigration laws, following court orders limiting his travel ban targeting majority Muslim countries, his attempt to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, and his policy of separating migrant families along the southwest border.
The preliminary injunction now prevents the deportation of an estimated 300,000 immigrants from Haiti, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Sudan, who were facing a series of deadlines starting next month, to depart the country or risk becoming undocumented immigrants.
Some 60,000 Haitians had until January to find a way to legalize or leave. The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (LDF) was one of a number of organizations that sued the Trump administration for denying Haitian immigrants their right to equal protection under the U.S. Constitution.
The Department of Homeland Security had argued that the program has been wrongly extended for years, and that conditions in those four countries are now suitable for thousands of their residents to return home.
But the Northern California judge disagreed – at least for now – and set a hearing for Oct. 26th.
Chen, who was appointed by President Barack Obama, ruled that there would be enduring, longstanding harm to TPS holders, and the communities in which they live, if they’re forced to leave the country.
He cited a brief filed by 17 states that estimated they would lose $132 billion in gross domestic product, $5.2 billion in Social Security and Medicare contributions, and $733 million in employer turnover costs if TPS recipients are sent home.
Chen focused much of his 43-page decision on the way that the Trump administration reached its decision. He wrote that former Homeland Security Acting Secretary Elaine Duke did not appear to have reached her decision to end TPS based on the facts before her but was “largely carrying out or conforming with a predetermined presidential agenda to end TPS.”
He said that agenda may have been tainted by racial bias and listed multiple comments and actions by Trump, during his presidential campaign and after moving into the White House, as indications that the TPS termination had a racial component behind it.
1: Trump’s comments during his June 2015 speech announcing his candidacy when he characterized Mexicans as drug dealers, criminals and rapists.
2: His December 2015 call for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.”
3: A report in the Washington Post in January 2018 that President Trump referred to El Salvador, Haiti and African nations as “shithole countries.”
4: A February 2018 speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference where Trump “used MS-13…to disparage immigrants, indicating that they are criminals and comparing them to snakes.”
“The issues are at least serious enough to preserve the status quo,” he wrote.
The suit against DHS was filed last March by the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California and other immigrant advocates. The ruling, however, does not affect the termination of TPS for two other countries: Nepal and Honduras. But attorneys are sure to press other courts to follow suit and temporarily suspend those decisions.
The Family Action Movement Network, led by Haitian Marleine Bastien of Miami, welcomed the ruling as good news.
But because they believe the White House will appeal this decision soon, their next plan is to push out the vote during the mid-term elections, so that more Democrats are elected, and Congress is pressured into coming up with a permanent solution.
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