May Day immigration march in Washington, D.C. on May 1, 2017.
A lawsuit filed to a federal court Thursday on behalf of Haitian and Salvadoran immigrants claims that the Trump administration ended Temporary Protected Status - a program that shielded them from deportation on the grounds that conditions in their home country are unsafe - because the president is prejudiced against black and Latino immigrants.
The lawsuit, filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in MA, names Trump and top Homeland Security officials as defendants. Conditions can include natural or environmental disasters and armed conflict.
"Today we are drawing a line in the sand and saying that governmental policy can not be based on bias and discrimination", said Oren Sellstrom, an attorney with the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice, which filed the complaint.
The lawsuit includes a litany of derogatory statements and tweets from President Donald Trump about immigrants. 50,000 Haitians have been eligible for TPS and now the Trump administration has until May 23 to make a decision on extending TPS for Haitians or allowing it to expire on July 22 which would mean possibly deportation for the current TPS holders.
The plaintiffs claim the administration's decisions on TPS stem from Trump's supposedly racist views of Hispanic and black immigrants, not a neutral assessment of conditions in Haiti and El Salvador.
The administration has set deadlines for Salvadoran and Haitian TPS beneficiaries to leave the country by September 9, 2019 and July 22, 2019, respectively. The suit states there are 242,900 Salvadoran immigrants in the United States covered by the policy with jobs, homes and an estimated 192,700 USA -born children, according to the lawsuit. Many of them have children who are USA citizens. "The administration's decision to terminate TPS for El Salvador and Haiti manifests these discriminatory views". "As the individual plaintiffs' experiences reflect, entrepreneurs will lose their business; property owners will lose their family homes; and families with USA citizen children will be torn apart".
The suit lists claims for equal protection and due process violations.
This is the second TPS-related lawsuit filed in recent weeks.
In a letter addressed to then-Acting U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke, Baker wrote, in part: "I urge you to recognize the unsuitability of ordering tens of thousands of Haitians, Salvadorans and Hondurans now in the United States to return to homelands that are in crisis and that will be at risk of becoming further destabilized by a sudden influx of TPS nationals". Similar to the lawsuit filed Thursday, the NAACP also cited the president's remarks about immigrants. El Salvador and Haiti gained temporary protective status in 2001 and 2010, respectively, after both countries suffered devastating earthquakes.