The Justice Department has appealed a federal judge’s decision to halt the termination of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for over 300,000 immigrants from El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Sudan.
The unsurprising move comes one week after U.S. District Judge Edward Chen in San Francisco blocked the Trump administration from scrapping the TPS designations, which protect immigrants from war-torn countries or those affected by natural disasters or sweeping epidemics.
Chen ruled that the government must maintain TPS and recipients’ employment authorizations while a lawsuit challenging the government’s decision to eliminate those protections was ongoing. It was an undeniable, albeit temporary win for TPS holders, who fled disastrous and life-threatening living conditions in their countries of origins in order to start anew in the United States.
“[…] Absent injunctive relief, TPS beneficiaries and their children indisputably will suffer irreparable harm and great hardship [if protections are revoked,” Chen wrote in his decision.
The Trump administration appealed a federal judge’s order that halted TPS terminations for El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua and Sudan. Now the fight heads to the 9th Circuit https://t.co/DlWUy5kGXs pic.twitter.com/nw0i0uAKxQ
— Ted Hesson (@tedhesson) October 12, 2018
The appeal underscores just how badly the Trump administration wants to the limit the number of immigrants from predominantly non-white countries. Judge Chen even made this exact argument in his decision last week, writing that he was concerned that the White House made the decision to end TPS “based on animus against non-white, non-European immigrants in violation of Equal Protection guaranteed by the Constitution.”
The Trump administration has argued that the initial conditions that necessitated a protected status in the first place are no longer applicable and that immigrants from countries devastated by natural disasters, disease, and civil war should be kicked out of the country.
That President Trump and his administration want to eliminate TPS protections for immigrants of color is not surprising, given their track record. Earlier in August, emails revealed Trump administration officials had actively pushed for TPS to be terminated as far back as August 2017.
“We can comb through the country conditions to try to see what else there might be, but the basic problem is that it IS bad there (with regards to) all of the standard metrics,” one staffer wrote in October 2017, laying out how the administration might argue its case. “Our strongest argument for termination, we thought, is just that it is not bad in a way clearly linked to the initial disasters prompting the designations. We can work with RU to try to get more, and/or comb through the country conditions we have again looking for positive gems, but the conditions are what they are.”
Trump himself has repeatedly denigrated immigrants from predominantly non-white nations as well, describing Haiti and several African nations as “shit hole” countries during a closed-door meeting with lawmakers to discuss TPS in January.
“Why do we need more Haitians?” Trump said, according to people familiar with the meeting. “Take them out.”
Attempting to eliminate TPS isn’t the only way in which the administration has gone after immigrants seeking refuge in the United States: a recent Amnesty International report found the federal government may have violated international human rights when it turned away asylum-seekers at ports of entry, some of whom were later detained and locked up when they tried desperately to cross the border elsewhere.
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