Black and Latino Immigrants File Federal Lawsuit to Block Trump Administration’s Termination of Temporary Protected Status for El Salvador and Haiti
Lawsuit Charges Administration Action Is “Impermissibly Tainted By Discrimination”
Today, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice, in partnership with Centro Presente, filed a landmark federal lawsuit against the Trump Administration to save Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Salvadoran and Haitian immigrants.
The lawsuit challenges the decision made by the defendants – President Donald J. Trump, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen and Deputy Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Elaine Costanzo Duke – to terminate TPS designation for El Salvador and Haiti, citing discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity and/or national origin.
“President Trump has made no secret of his racist views,” says Iván Espinoza-Madrigal, Executive Director of the Lawyers’ Committee, citing a string of the President’s comments including equating Latino immigrants with rapists and referring to Haiti as a “shithole” country. Attorney Espinoza-Madrigal said that “the Administration’s decision to terminate TPS for El Salvador and Haiti manifests these discriminatory views,” and stated that “the Constitution does not allow governmental decision-making that is infected by this type of racial bias.”
Earthquakes, mudslides, hurricanes and other natural disasters, displacing millions of people, led to TPS designations for El Salvador in 2001 and Haiti in 2010. As both Republican and Democratic Administrations have consistently found since then, stagnant economies, extreme gang and gender-based violence, a cholera epidemic and ill-functioning infrastructures have stalled recovery. Therefore, these countries do not have the capacity to receive a massive influx of returning immigrants. TPS is intended to provide safe haven in the United States for foreign nationals whose nation is experiencing a humanitarian or environmental crisis.
In an abrupt departure from these findings, however, the Trump Administration recently announced its decision to terminate TPS status for both Haiti and El Salvador. As it stands, TPS is set to terminate for Haiti on July 22, 2019, and for El Salvador on September 9, 2019. Not only will rescission of TPS have devastating effects on immigrants from those countries and their families who currently call the United States home, but the American economy, job market and housing market will also suffer.
There are 242,900 El Salvadoran immigrants in the U.S. with TPS who hold jobs, own homes and have an estimated 192,700 U.S. Citizen children. There are 93,500 immigrants from Haiti in the U.S. with TPS who also work and have established homes here with an estimated 27,000 U.S. Citizen children.
Meet five such individuals:
Juan Carlos Vidal, a Salvadoran immigrant, is a successful entrepreneur and property owner, residing in Revere, Mass. For more than a decade, he worked his way up from kitchen assistant to chef at Blue Fin restaurant in Cambridge, Mass. before opening four restaurants of his own in Greater Boston, employing more than 20 U.S. citizens. The proud father of two U.S.-born children, ages 5 and 7, has been as TPS recipient since 2001.
Chris Jean Baptise, a 19-year-old Haitian immigrant, graduated from Milton High School and is currently enrolled in Bunker Hill Community College. Outside of school, he works as a manager for a franchise of one of America’s largest restaurant chains. He has been a TPS recipient since 2010.
Mercedes Mata, a Salvadoran immigrant, is a homeowner in Leominster. She works as a clerk in the Fitchburg Municipal Office and is one of the only bi-lingual employees serving the nearly 25% Latino community. She is an active member of her church and the proud mother of two Massachusetts-born children. Her 21-year-old is enrolled in Mount Wachusett Community College and her seven-year-old is in the first grade at a local elementary school. She has been a TPS beneficiary since 2001.
Carolina Mata, a Salvadoran immigrant, is an active member of Centro Presente. She is also the proud mother of two Massachusetts-born children. Her 19-year-old is a freshman at Fitchburg State University and her 11-year-old is in the fifth grade at a local elementary school. She has been a TPS recipient since 2001.
“Many of the plaintiffs have lived in the United States for decades,” says Patricia Montes, Executive Director of Centro Presente. “If TPS is terminated, they are at risk of losing everything — the homes and the businesses they have built, the families they have raised and the money they have invested into their communities.”
According to Oren Nimni, one of the attorneys at the Lawyers’ Committee representing the plaintiffs, the lawsuit asks a federal judge to rule that the Trump Administration’s decision to terminate TPS for El Salvador and Haiti violates Equal Protection principles and to halt the termination.
“As we have seen repeatedly in recent months, federal judges have shown a willingness to block actions by the Trump Administration that run afoul of constitutional protections,” says Attorney Nimni. “Today’s lawsuit seeks similar relief on behalf of the thousands of hard-working Salvadoran and Haitian immigrants currently receiving TPS protection.”
About Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice
The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice fosters equal opportunity and fights discrimination on behalf of people of color and immigrants. The organization engages in creative and courageous legal action, education, and advocacy in collaboration with law firms and community partners. Founded in 1968 at the request of President John F. Kennedy, the organization desegregated Boston Public Schools and continues to spearhead groundbreaking cases. For more information, visit lawyerscom.org.
About Centro Presente
Established in 1981, Centro Presente is a member-driven, state-wide Latin American immigrant organization dedicated to the self-determination and self-sufficiency of the Latin American immigrant community of Massachusetts. Operated and led primarily by Central American immigrants, Centro Presente struggles for immigrant rights and for economic and social justice. Through the integration of community organizing, leadership development and basic services, Centro Presente strives to give our members voice and build community power. For more information, visit: http://cpresente.org.
The complaint is available here:TPS Complaint FINAL FILED
This lawsuit received significant media attention and was in the Associated Press, Boston Globe (article and editorial), WBUR, Washington Post, Reuters, The Hill, Newsweek, Bloomberg News, San Francisco Chronicle, Law 360, Voice of America, Miami Herald (English and Spanish), Telemundo, Univision, El Diario, El Mundo, Prensa Grafica, Excelsior, and Reforma.