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Citing Irreparable Harm, Evidence of Racial Animus, Economic Harm, and Pressure From the White House, Judge Temporarily Blocks Trump Administration from Ending TPS

 

Yesterday, a federal court issued a forceful decision to temporarily block the Trump Administration from ending Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Sudan, Haiti, El Salvador, and Nicaragua while the court considers the merits of the case. The judge cited “irreparable harm and great hardship” to beneficiaries and their children if TPS is terminated. In addition, he cited evidence of unconstitutional racial animus, economic harm, and evidence  showing that the decision to end TPS was “pre-ordained” by the White House.

Below are key excerpts from the decision:

Harm to TPS beneficiaries and their families

Absent injunctive relief, TPS beneficiaries and their children indisputably will suffer irreparable harm and great hardship. TPS beneficiaries who have lived, worked, and raised families in the United States (many for more than a decade), will be subject to removal. Many have U.S.-born children; those may be faced with the Hobson’s choice of bringing their children with them (and tearing them away from the only country and community they have known) or splitting their families apart.

Harm to local and national economies

Plaintiffs and amici have established without dispute that local and national economies will be hurt if hundreds of thousands of TPS beneficiaries are uprooted and removed.

The State Amici estimates that “loss of legal status for these TPS holders is projected to cost $132.6 billion in GDP (due to lost earnings as well as decreased industry outputs), $5.2 billion in Social Security and Medicare contributions, and $733 million in employers’ turnover costs.” Docket No. 103-1 (State Amici at 9). Also, if TPS beneficiaries cannot work, then they will lose their employer-sponsored health care which will put a strain on public resources. Furthermore, many TPS beneficiaries are homeowners; if these TPS beneficiaries are no longer able to work, they may not be able to pay their property taxes, and their homes may become subject to foreclosure. See, e.g., Docket No. 103-1 (State Amici at 10) (stating that “[t]hirty-two percent of TPS holders from El Salvador and Haiti have mortgages, and almost 42 percent of Nicaraguan immigrants are homeowners”; adding that “Salvadoran TPS homeowners pay an estimated $100 million in property taxes annually, including up to $32 million in the Los Angeles area alone”).

International harm

[T]erminating TPS status may have adverse ramifications internationally….examples as to why terminating the TPS designations for, inter alia, Nicaragua and El Salvador would be against the United States’ own interest – e.g., returning aliens to these countries would put a strain on the countries’ systems and “possibly spur further irregular migration to the United States.

Department of Defense raised concerns that termination of Sudan’s TPS designation could negatively impact the United States from a foreign policy perspective.

No justification for changing long-held criteria used to decide whether to terminate TPS

They have presented a substantial record supporting their claim that the Acting Secretary or Secretary of DHS, in deciding to terminate the TPS status of Haiti, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Sudan, changed the criteria applied by the prior administrations, and did so without any explanation or justification in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act.”

Discrimination based on racial animus

Plaintiffs have also raised serious questions whether the actions taken by the Acting Secretary or Secretary was influenced by the White House and based on animus against non-white, non-European immigrants in violation of Equal Protection guaranteed by the Constitution.

Plaintiffs have provided sufficient evidence to raise serious questions as to whether a discriminatory purpose was a motivating factor in the decisions to terminate the TPS designations.  In particular, Plaintiffs have provided evidence indicating that (1) the DHS Acting Secretary or Secretary was influenced by President Trump and/or the White House in her TPS decision-making and (2) President Trump has expressed animus against non-white, non-European immigrants.

[E]ven if the DHS Secretary or Acting Secretary did not “personally harbor animus. . . , their actions may violate the equal protection guarantee if President Trump’s alleged animus influenced or manipulated their decision making process….Notably, Acting Secretary Duke’s writings suggest that she, in her role at DHS, was largely carrying out or conforming with a predetermined presidential agenda to end TPS.

Decisions were pre-ordained by the White House

[T]his may have been done in order to implement and justify a pre-ordained result desired by the White House….Acting Secretary Duke expressly acknowledged that the terminations of TPS designations were “a strong break with past practice,”Degen Decl., Ex. 30 (email) – designed to fit the President’s objectives on immigration which would put “America first.” See Degen Decl., Ex. 30 (email) (“These decisions along with the public statements will send a clear signal that TPS in general is coming to a close. I believe it is consistent with the President’s position on immigration . . . .”) (emphasis added); Degen Decl., Ex. 29 (memo) (“The TPS program must end for these countries soon . . . . [¶] This conclusion is the result of an America first view of the TPS decision.”) (emphasis added).

Ur Jaddou, Director of DHS Watch and former USCIS Chief Counsel, said:  “Once the Trump administration began terminating TPS programs, it became rather clear that officials were ignoring the statutory framework for making such decisions and ending TPS for most based on other factors. Since then, multiple emails, reports, and official documents have been discovered that make it clear the administration was not interested in following the law, but rather was interested in constructing findings unrelated to fact, changing long-held interpretations of the law, and arriving at pre-ordained decisions likely motivated by racial animus.  Fortunately, a federal judge has uncovered the real basis for these decisions and issued a preliminary injunction to temporarily reverse them.”