A caravan of immigrants protesting the termination of deportation protections by the Trump administration began a 12-week journey on Friday (August 17) that will take them from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C.
Some 50 beneficiaries of Temporary Protected Status (TPS), a form of humanitarian relief for immigrants fleeing civil unrest and natural disasters, hope President Trump will reverse rulings that have given some 400,000 immigrants 18 months to leave the United States or obtain another form of legal residency status.
In a series of rulings in 2017 and early this year, the Trump administration revoked TPS for certain immigrants from El Salvador, Honduras, Haiti, Nicaragua, Nepal and Sudan.
The Trump administration argued that improved conditions in these countries means their protected status in the United States is no longer justified. But critics point out that many of these countries remain volatile, with political instability and violent crime running rampant. El Salvador and Honduras, for example, are counted among the most violent countries in the world.
On the steps of Los Angeles City Hall on Friday, city leaders and immigration advocates rallied against the administration’s deportation policies and announced the TPS Journey for Justice Caravan, led by National TPS Alliance, the Central American Resource Center and the National Day Laborer Organizing Network. Mayor Eric Garcetti, who is eyeing a 2020 presidential run, was among those who underlined the fate of TPS holders and helped launch the 12-week caravan that will lead immigrants through dozens of cities before descending on Washington, D.C.
"Let me start with a message for every TPS holder in Los Angeles,” said Garcetti, per the Los Angeles Times. "We will stand with you and we will fight for you. Because Los Angeles is a city where everyone belongs and you belong here at home."
In February, a group of Haitian and Salvadoran TPS holders filed a lawsuit alleging that the Trump administration’s decision to end deportation protections were motivated by race.
"The animus directed towards Latino and Black immigrants," the lawsuit reads, "is a clear and unfortunate thread running throughout President Trump’s statements—and is actualized by his administration’s policies, such as the one challenged by this lawsuit."
Last month, a federal judge rejected an attempt by the administration to toss the lawsuit, arguing that the plaintiffs had credible constitutional claims.