A federal judge has dismissed an attempt by the Trump administration to throw out a lawsuit that argues that its decision to end deportation protections for more than 300,000 immigrants was motivated by race.
United States District Judge Denise Casper ruled that the lawsuit challenging termination of Temporary Protected Status (TPS), a type of humanitarian relief, for immigrants from Haiti, Honduras and El Salvador can move ahead.
As The Associated Press reports, Judge Casper also struck down attempts to remove President Donald Trump as a defendant in the case.
"We look forward to progressing in this important case and holding the federal government accountable for illegally and improperly cancelling TPS and the life-saving humanitarian protection it provides to immigrants,” Oren Nimni of Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice, which represents the plaintiffs, said in a statement.
The lawsuit alleges that the Trump administration’s termination of TPS was a "smokescreen" for a racist immigration agenda. It points out that Trump has equated Latinx immigrants with rapists and has said that a group of Haitian immigrants "all have AIDS."
On Monday (July 23), Casper ruled that the immigrants had made credible constitutional claims.
"This court finds that the combination of a disparate impact on particular racial groups, statements of animus by people plausibly alleged to be involved in the decision-making process, and an allegedly unreasoned shift in policy sufficient to allege plausibly that a discriminatory purpose was a motivating factor in a decision," Casper wrote in her 42-page order.
Since 2001, after earthquakes devastated parts of El Salvador, some 200,000 Salvadoran immigrants have benefited from TPS, which provides relief to natives of countries wracked by war and natural disasters. They have an estimated 192,000 U.S.-citizen children. In January, the Trump administration gave them 18 months to leave the U.S. or face deportation.
Roughly 60,000 Haitian immigrants were granted TPS after a 2010 earthquake jolted their country. They have an estimated 27,000 U.S.-born children, and the remittances they send back to Haiti amounted to 25 percent of the country’s GDP in 2015.
Likewise, the 57,000 Honduran TPS holders, many of whom have been in the U.S. for 20 years, were told in May that their deportation protections will end in January 2020.
"This favorable decision gives hope to immigrant families and children," Patricia Montes, executive director of Centro Presente, one of the more than a dozen plaintiffs in the lawsuit, said in a statement. "TPS recipients have been an important part of our communities for decades. They are raising U.S. citizen children. They own businesses and homes. They deserve to be treated with dignity and respect by the federal government and President Trump."