Judge Halts Trump Administration From Ending Special Protections for Immigrants


The state of Temporary Protected Status, or TPS, has been an ongoing concern for immigrant communities in the age of Trump. But a win came late Wednesday when a federal judge stopped the Trump administration’s plans to end special protections for thousands of recipients from El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua and Sudan.

The move temporarily blocks the administration’s plans to force more than 300,000 TPS beneficiaries from finding an alternative immigration status or risk deportation. The decision came after a class action lawsuit filed in March from immigrants and their family members who contend that the administration was motivated by racism when it decided to strip them of TPS protections.

U.S. District Court Judge Edward Chen agreed. “President Trump harbors an animus against non-white, non-European aliens which influenced his … decision to end the TPS designation,” Chen, an appointee of President Barack Obama, wrote in his 43-page order.

The San Francisco-based judge stressed the damage that ending TPS would have on recipients, a majority of whom have lived, worked and raised families in the United States for decades.

TPS is designed to benefit immigrants from countries made unsafe by natural disaster, war or other extreme circumstances. For people who are faced with this, it allows them to remain in the U.S. and apply for work permits. Although previous administrations have extended TPS designation every few years, even after the circumstances abroad improved, this administration has stood firm in arguing that improved conditions in the home countries of TPS recipients should lead to their return.

Chen doesn’t agree, taking issue with that stance and Trump’s racism.  

“The balance of hardships thus tips sharply in favor of TPS beneficiaries and their families,” Chen wrote. He also noted the administration did not show any harm resulting from the continuation of TPS. However, 17 states filed a brief outlining the financial disruption they would face if TPS recipients were deported.

The Trump administration has also acted to end TPS for people from Honduras and Nepal.

This preliminary injunction won’t immediately affect program enrollees. The first group of people set to lose status are about 1,000 Sudanese, whose enrollment will terminate on Nov. 2. The most TPS beneficiaries hail from El Salvador, and they aren’t slated to lose the designation until September 2019.

Crista Ramos, a 14-year-old US citizen whose mother is a TPS holder from El Salvador, is the lead plaintiff in the case. “I was so happy when I found out about the judge’s decision. Ever since the TPS terminations were announced, I have been wondering how I can live a normal life if I am about to lose my mom,” Ramos said in a statement. “Today, my family and I are celebrating. Tomorrow, we will continue our fight for permanent status for TPS holders.”

Since the start of the year, protests have taken place around the country against this administration’s plans to end TPS. With Chen’s decision, there’s hope that the temporary block will lead to steps in the right direction.

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