Court Approves Trump’s Right to Deport TPS Beneficiaries

Por EFE / Confidencial

Photo: EFE / Confidencial

US Court of Appeals validated Trump’s right to end Temporary Protective Status, a program that has given asylum to over 400,000 immigrants, including more than 5,000 Nicas.

HAVANA TIMES – On September 14, a US Appeals court ruled in favor of the Trump Administration’s right to terminate Temporary Protective Status.  This program, abbreviated as TPS, affects immigrants from El Salvador, Nicaragua, Sudan and Haiti.

In a 2-1 decision, the Ninth Circuit Appeals Court, based in California, annulled the preliminary judicial order of a lower US Court. In 2018, Judge Edward Chan had blocked the Trump Administration’s decision to end TPS for immigrants from those four countries.

The Judicial decision puts at risk large numbers of immigrants who had received protection from this special immigration status. The group includes 300,000 Salvadorans, 5,000 Nicaraguans, 1000 Sudanese and 58,000 Haitians.  Under TPS, citizens from countries affected by war or natural disaster can receive temporary permission to enter and remain in the US.

“The panel annulled a preliminary court order, blocking the … decision to rescind TPS for Sudan, Nicaragua, Haiti and El Salvador.”  The decision came down from a panel of three judges based in Pasadena, California.

The appeals court judges’ ruling stated: “The district court abused its discretionary powers when emitting the preliminary court order.”

Application of the ruling isn’t immediate

In 2017 and 2018, the Trump Administration announced its intention to end TPS for these four countries. However, their decision was brought before the California District Court, which blocked it.

The ruling directly affects some 400,000 immigrants that currently receive TPS protection. However, as noted in the legal documents, it would also impact some 200,000 children born in the US.

Without TPS, those who benefitted are subject to deportation if they can’t find another path to legalize their immigration status.

Despite the September 14 ruling, Trump can’t actually end TPS for Nicaragua, Sudan and Haiti until March 5. Salvadorans, for their part, have until November 2021. This information comes from one of the chief lawyers for the America Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Ahilan Arulanantham.

The attorney explained this in a call organized by the group “TPS Alliance” shortly after the court ruling was made public.  In his remarks, the lawyer called Trump “racist”. He announced that the group would continue their legal actions against eliminating the program.

“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,” the attorney declared.

Judges deny claim of discrimination

The plaintiff’s had argued that racial discrimination was behind the Trump government’s decision to end the protections. The higher court justices ruled the petitioners’ arguments insufficient to “support a finding of discriminatory purpose for the TPS terminations”. Although the Ninth Circuit Court magistrates rejected the idea, Arulanantham insisted that racism was behind the Trump decision.

Those formerly protected by TPS and organizations that defend immigrants’ rights are expected to appeal this decision further. However, there has not yet been any official confirmation of this.

However, groups including the ACLU and CASA Maryland expressed their opposition to the decision, shortly after it was issued publicly.

“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, (…) this decision would force those families to be torn apart.” This was the statement issued in an ACLU communique.

Devastated” by the news

For her part, Elsy Alfaro stated that the judicial ruling “devastated” her. However, she assured that “Trump’s racist motives won’t win this game.”  Alfaro, a Salvadoran activist, is a beneficiary of TPS and a member of the group CASA Maryland.

Alfaro also urged the US Congress to act to protect her and all those currently holding TPS status. These immigrants are living “in uncertainty, because their legal status is being debated.”

Another of the affected immigrants is Wilma, a Haitian living in Miami. She noted that this negative decision adds to the stress that TPS beneficiaries are experiencing with the pandemic.

“We have the Coronavirus pandemic, we’re in the hurricane season, and now this. For me, it’s yet another disaster,” Wilma stated. She added that she, herself, had recently recovered from COVID-19.

Temporary Protective Status is a temporary benefit. Those receiving it are subject to verifications of their histories to guarantee that they don’t represent any risk to US security.

El Salvador was included in the program in 2001; Nicaragua in 1999; Sudan in 1997; and Haiti in 2010.

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