By Miriam Raftery
October 3, 2018 (San Francisco) – U.S. District Court Judge Edward Chen in San Francisco has temporarily blocked an order by the Trump Administration to revoke the legal status of over 300,000 immigrants who had been granted temporary protection in the U.S. after fleeing violence and natural disasters in Haiti, Sudan, Nicaragua and El Salvador. Some have lived in the U.S. for over 20 years. The order also protects children who are U.S. citizens, whose parents have been ordered deported.
The judge found the administration lacked “any explanation or justification” for its action, adding that there are “serious questions as to whether a discriminatory purpose was a motivating factor” that would violate the Constitution’s equal protection clause. Chen cited Trump’s derogatory remark to “sh*thole countries” as evidence of racial bias.
The lawsuit was filed by the ACLU Foundation of Southern California, the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, and the law firm of Sidley Austin LLP on behalf of nine people with temporary protected status (TPS) and five U.S. citizen children of TPS holders.
Chen found that immigrants with TPS status and their children would suffer “irreparable harm and great hardship” without injunctive relief, forced to leave children in the U.S. and split families apart, or take children with them back to often dangerous homelands.
The injunction temporarily halts deportations of protected status immigrants from the four nations from which Trump’s administration had revoked protections, while the case works its way through the court system. The judge did not yet rule on the merits of the case itself.
Justice Department spokesman Devin O’Malley issued a statement after the decision indicating the administration will “continue to fight for the integrity of our immigrant laws and our national security” and further accused Judge Chen of usurping the role of the executive branch of government.
Back in August, Chen refused an administration request to dismiss the case, writing that the President’s own statements could be construed by a reasonable observer as “evidence of racial bias animus against non-white immigrants” that tainted the decision-making process at Homeland Security on the matter.