Judge Says Immigrants Losing Protected Status Can Sue Trump Administration

By Alfonso Serrano Jun 26, 2018

A federal judge on Monday (June 26) rejected a request from the Department of Justice (DOJ) to dismiss a lawsuit challenging the termination of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for nearly 250,000 immigrants from El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua and Sudan.

U.S. District Judge Edward Chen ruled that courts can review the lawsuit seeking to reestablish TPS for immigrants from the four countries. They were originally offered TPS in the wake of natural disasters and political turmoil in their home countries.

The suit, filed in February, alleges that President Donald Trump’s stated reasons for ending TPS—that conditions in their home countries had improved enough for the immigrants to return—are a "smokescreen" for a racist immigration agenda.

During a January meeting with lawmakers in the Oval Office, in which the subject of protecting immigrants from Haiti and El Salvador was discussed, Trump, according to lawmakers in the meeting, said: "Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?"

The lawsuit asserts that termination of TPS will "wreak havoc" on the lives of hundreds of thousands of people.

"As the individual plaintiffs’ experiences reflect, entrepreneurs will lose their businesses; property owners will lose their family homes; and families with U.S. citizen children will be torn apart," the suit states. "People who have lived in the United States for decades now risk being rounded up and removed from the neighborhoods where they have built their lives, raised children and invested in their communities."

Roughly 50,000 Haitians were granted TPS after a devastating earthquake rattled their country in 2010. They have an estimated 27,000 U.S.-born children, and in 2015, the billions of dollars they sent back to the island in remittances amounted to 25 percent of the country’s GDP.

The nearly 200,000 Salvadorans benefitting from TPS, granted by George W. Bush after a 7.6 magnitude earthquake killed over 1,000 people in 2001, have an estimated 192,000 U.S.-born children and contribute $3 billion to the U.S. GDP. In January, the Trump administration announced they have 18 months to leave the country or face deportation.

In its effort to dissolve the suit, the Trump administration argued that the decision to terminate TPS had a "rational basis," and that Congress prohibits courts from doubting the administration’s decisions related to temporary protected status.