In First TPS Decision, Federal Judge Upholds TPS-Holders’ Right to Make a Claim

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In front of the courthouse in California, eight of the 14 plaintiffs in the lawsuit brought against the Trump administration for violating the constitutional rights of TPS holders.

On Fri., Jun. 22, U.S. District Judge Edward Chen rejected a U.S. government motion to dismiss a lawsuit brought in March by nine holders of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and five of their children, who are U.S. citizens.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) had asked the court to dismiss the case “for lack of subject matter jurisdiction,” meaning that the DHS could make its TPS “determinations” without court intervention.

But in his decision, Judge Chen ruled that “Plaintiffs have plausibly pled that President Trump made statements which a reasonable observer could construe as evidence of racial bias animus against non-white immigrants, and that he thereafter influenced and tainted DHS’s decision-making process with regard to TPS.”

The case, which was brought in the Northern District of California, alleges that the Trump administration violated the constitutional rights of TPS holders from El Salvador, Haiti, Sudan, and Nicaragua, as well as the constitutional rights of their children. It also charges that the government violated the Administrative Procedure Act.

President Trump made statements which a reasonable observer could construe as evidence of racial bias animus against non-white immigrants

The case is similar to one also brought in March by Haïti Liberté, the Family Action Network Movement (FANM), and 10 Haitians currently living in the U.S. under TPS. That suit charges Trump and his DHS officials with “an arbitrary and capricious agency action that was undertaken without statutory authority and without the procedures required by law” when they ended TPS for some 50,000 Haitians, effective Jul. 22, 2019.

“We are grateful that the Court found it had authority to consider the important claims raised by the TPS holders and their US citizen children in this case,” said Ahilan Arulanantham, Legal Director at the ACLU of Southern California. “We are proud that our clients have resisted the Trump Administration’s racist attempts to separate them from their communities. We will continue to work to ensure that they receive justice from our government and look forward to the next phase of this case.”

The plaintiffs, from Haiti, El Salvador, and Sudan, 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. They are represented by the ACLU of Southern California, the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, and Sidley Austin LLP.

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