Yesterday, US District Judge Edward Chen in San Francisco issued an injunction to block the deportation of hundreds of thousands who are in the country under temporary protected status. Judge Chen ruled that the order issued by Trump’s Department of Homeland Security, which would have affected former residents of El Salvador, Nicaragua, Haiti, and Sudan, may have been motivated by racism.
Those deportations were due to begin on November 2nd and continue through the fall of 2019.
Immigrants from 10 nations currently hold the status. The suit was filed on behalf of 263,000 Salvadorans, who were allowed to remain in the U.S. after a 2001 earthquake; 5,300 Nicaraguans, after a hurricane in 1998; 46,000 Haitians, following a 2010 quake; and 1,000 Sudanese because of an ongoing civil war.
Once again, Trump’s own words were considered by a court as proof of motivation. In this case, it was his reference to Haiti and nations in Africa as “s—hole countries” that helped make the case. (A week later, it was announced that protected status for Haitians would be terminated.) The judge took that statement as evidence that the action taken may have been influenced by racial discrimination, which violates the Constitution. Chen also cited statements calling Mexican immigrants “drug dealers and rapists,” along with Trump’s assertions last year that Haitian immigrants “all have AIDS” and that Nigerians, after entering the United States, would “never go back to their huts” in Africa.
Further, a memo issued by then-Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke acknowledged that the TPS revocation order was “a result of an America First view.” Chen put all these things together and concluded that Duke was “largely carrying out or conforming with a predetermined presidential agenda to end TPS,” observing that real harm could be caused to those targeted under the order:
Absent injunctive relief, TPS beneficiaries and their children indisputably will suffer irreparable harm and great hardship. 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 US-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.
This potential harm for those families outweighs any harm to the government, ruled the judge in issuing the injunction, and since he believes that advocates for the plaintiffs are likely to successfully make their case, for now the order is stayed.
“I think everyone already knows the Trump administration has really callous policies when it comes to deportation,” said Jessica Karp Bansal, co-legal director of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, which brought the suit in league with the ACLU and a private law firm. “But this case is not only about deportation. This is about the Trump administration taking away legal status from people who held it for decades. And that is because of racial animus toward those people.”—Ruth McCambridge