Trump Can End TPS Protections For Almost 300,000 Immigrants, Court Rules

Topline

A California appeals court on Monday gave the Trump Administration permission to end Temporary Protected Status for immigrants from El Salvador, Nicaragua, Haiti, and Sudan, potentially clearing the way for officials to force almost 300,000 immigrants out of the country.

Key Facts

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision applies to people who are enrolled in the federal TPS program, which protects immigrants from deportation if their home countries are struggling with civil wars or natural disasters.

Almost three years ago, President Trump announced that he was ending protections for El Salvador, Nicaragua, Haiti, and Sudan, claiming the four countries have recovered from the natural disasters and violent conflicts that initially caused people to flee.

A district court in California temporarily halted that decision in late 2018 after a group of lawyers sued, arguing that Trump was motivated by racial discrimination.

Today’s 2-1 decision reversed the district court’s temporary order and allowed the federal government to take away TPS protections while the court case continues.

The ACLU of Southern California, one of the groups that sued the administration, said it plans to continue its legal fight.

A U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services spokesperson told Forbes the agency is reviewing the appeals court’s decision, but did not offer any updates.

What To Watch For

DHS has promised to wait several months before taking away TPS status if the agency won in court. As a result, the ACLU told Forbes that it expects the protections to start ending no sooner than March, meaning that Joe Biden could reverse the administration’s decision if he wins in November, though the organization plans to fight back in the meantime.

Key Background

The TPS program was first introduced in 1990, and it has protected immigrants from more than 20 countries at various points since then. More than 300,000 people from 10 different nations currently use the program, some of whom have lived and worked in the United States for decades. Trump has sharply criticized the program, sometimes along racial lines, and in one infamous and widely criticized incident two years ago, the president reportedly referred to the program’s beneficiaries as “people from shithole countries.”

Chief Critic

“The president’s vile statements about TPS holders made perfectly clear that his administration acted out of racial animus,”Ahilan Arulanantham, a lawyer for the ACLU of Southern California, wrote in a statement. “The Constitution does not permit policy to be driven by racism. We will seek further review of the court’s decision.”

Further Reading

What Is Temporary Protected Status? (Council on Foreign Relations)

‘We Have to Fight’: Immigrants Win Reprieve, but Anxiety Over Deportation Lingers (New York Times)

Trump’s timing for ending TPS immigrant protections was tied to 2020 race, Senate Democrats say (NBC News)

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