Federal Court Backs Trump’s Order to Kill TPS Program

300,000 People Living Legally in the U.S. — Some for Decades — Could be Deported

September 14, 2020 2:00 pm

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SAN FRANCISCO — In a 2-1 decision today, a three-judge Panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the Trump administration’s effort to terminate the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) of approximately 300,000 people who have lived here lawfully, many of them for decades.

If the decision stands, these long-time lawful residents who were welcomed to the U.S. because their countries were mired in violence or natural disasters could be sent back. Because they have several hundred thousand American children — many of whom are school-aged — this decision would force those families to be torn apart.

The decision in the lawsuit Ramos v Nielsen overturned a district court ruling that cited evidence the Trump administration’s termination of TPS was “based on animus against non-white, non-European immigrants in violation of equal protection guaranteed by the Constitution.”

Ramos v Nielsen concerned TPS holders from El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Sudan. President Trump had dismissed TPS holders as “people from shithole countries.”

Ahilan Arulanantham, senior counsel of the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Southern California, said in reaction to the court’s decision, “The president’s vile statements about TPS holders made perfectly clear that his administration acted out of racial animus. The Constitution does not permit policy to be driven by racism. We will seek further review of the court’s decision.”

A press call with TPS holders and others will take place later today.

The court decision, while a disappointment, does not immediately end TPS. TPS holders from these countries will be permitted to maintain their status until at least February, and those from El Salvador until at least November.

TPS holders have been a benefit to the U.S. in numerous ways, including during the current health crises. A court filing in April showed that more than a third of TPS holders were working in industries deemed essential by the Department of Homeland Security, such as healthcare, during the pandemic.

Ramos v Nielsen was filed in 2018 by the ACLU SoCal, the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, and the law firm of Sidley Austin LLP. It was filed on behalf of nine people with TPS and five U.S. citizen children of TPS holders.

“We, the TPS community, vow to continue our struggle for justice and equality,” said National TPS Alliance Organizer William Martinez. “We will continue to fight in the court system, in the streets, in the halls of congress and in the court of public opinion. We will exhaust every legal recourse at our disposal to protect our community and our loved ones.”

The plaintiffs are members of diverse organizations fighting to defend TPS, including the National TPS Alliance, CARECEN-Los Angeles, the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT), UNITE-HERE, and African Communities Together.

Ramos v Nielsen was the first lawsuit to challenge the Trump administration’s TPS terminations on behalf of not only the status holders, but also their children.

In friend-of-the-court briefs, 18 states including California, plus 34 local jurisdictions including Los Angeles city and county, supported the effort to keep the district court’s preliminary injunction in place. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said, “We will not stand idly by as our neighbors and colleagues are ripped from their families.”

In addition to the countries named in Ramos v Nielsen, TPS holders from Nepal and Honduras also faced a threat to their status from the Trump administration. Today’s decision has the effect of protecting their status as well, due to a companion case known as Bhattarai v Nielsen.

Read the court decision here: https://www.aclusocal.org/sites/default/files/crista_ramos_et_al_v._kirstjen_nielsen.pdf

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