Alan Gomez, USA Today, October 3, 2018
A federal judge on Wednesday ordered the Trump administration to temporarily halt its plan to end a special federal immigration program that has allowed hundreds of thousands of immigrants to legally live and work in the U.S. for decades.
U.S. District Judge Edward Chen ruled that the administration may have side-stepped federal rule-making guidelines, imposed undue political pressure on staffers, and violated the Equal Protection Clause by basing its decision “on animus against non-white, non-European immigrants.”
The preliminary injunction ordered by Chen prevents the deportation of an estimated 240,000 immigrants from El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua and Sudan, who were facing a series of deadlines starting in November to depart the country or risk becoming undocumented immigrants. These immigrants had been granted permission to be in the U.S. under the Temporary Protected Status program, better known as TPS. The humanitarian program was created in 1990 to help immigrants from countries that suffered war or major natural disasters.
The Department of Homeland Security, which manages TPS, has 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 federal judge disagreed with the administration and sided — at least for now — with the plaintiffs. He set a hearing for Oct. 26.
Chen 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.
TPS holders are “faced with a 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,” the judge wrote.
Chen said that agenda may have been tainted by racial bias. The judge listed off 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.
The judge listed:
– Trump’s comments during his June 2015 speech announcing his candidacy when he characterized Mexicans as drug dealers, criminals and rapists.
– His December 2015 call for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.”
– A report in the Washington Post in January 2018 that President Trump referred to El Salvador, Haiti and African nations as “shithole countries.”
– 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 Justice Department said Chen’s decision “usurps the role of the executive branch” and vowed to fight his ruling in court.
The suit against DHS was filed last March by the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California and other immigrant advocates.