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A new suit filed this morning in the Eastern District of New York alleges violations of law and the Constitution by Trump administration officials seeking to operationalize the President’s racial animus toward Haitians, in spite of mandatory statutory criteria and procedures required to evaluate Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haitians. The Administration announced that TPS for Haitian nationals will expire on July 22, 2019, endangering the lives of over 50,000 Haitians and their 27,000 U.S. citizen children.
The National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild (NIPNLG) and the law firms of Kurzban, Kurzban, Weinger, Tetzeli and Pratt P.A, (Kurzban), Mayer Brown and the Law Office of Clarel Cyriaque are bringing the suit on behalf of a dozen plaintiffs, including Haïti Liberté, the largest weekly Haitian newspaper in this hemisphere and Family Action Network Movement, Inc. (FANM). Providing significant support was the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti (IJDH), a Boston-based human rights nonprofit.
“The Administration’s about-face on TPS exposed their discriminatory agenda to reduce the number of Haitians in the United States and their disregard for the safety, security, and due process rights of Haitians,” said Sejal Zota, legal director of the NIPNLG.
Consistent with previous reviews, extended TPS based on an assessment that “extraordinary” conditions persist, including an ongoing housing shortage, severe cholera epidemic, lack of access to safe drinking water, an economic crisis including 40% unemployment, a population of 3.2 million who lack food security, and environmental risks including the impact of Hurricane Matthew, the worst hurricane to hit Haiti in 52 years.
President Trump is credited with making several discriminatory statements, including all Haitians “all have AIDS,” “[w]hy would we want any more Haitians?” and to “take them out” of a proposed bipartisan immigration deal. These statements, along with the President’s reference to “sh*thole countries” and other actions, reveal the racial animus underlying the TPS termination. Moreover, the suit alleges that officials did not follow the required procedures set forth in the immigration statute in deciding to terminate Haitian TPS and violated the law and Haitian TPS holders’ constitutional rights as a result.
Steve Forester of IJDH stated the following: “Haiti is a textbook case for TPS on the facts, as editorial boards and political and civic leaders have recognized. Getting to “no” required DHS to ignore the reality on the ground and move the goalposts on the applicable criteria.”
Co-counsel on the case, Ira Kurzban, adds “The decisions of Trump, his staff and the federal agencies disregard the administration’s own findings from months earlier and are nothing short of capricious, arbitrary and an abuse of discretion. Make no mistake, Trump’s decision to terminate Haitian TPS is motivated by his repellent bias towards Haitians and other people of color.”
Beyond the claims of racial animus, the suit also brings forward six different claims of unlawful action on the part of defendants, deputy DHS secretary Elaine Duke, DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, President Trump, and the Department of Homeland Security.
Among them are:
A full copy of the suit will be available at www.
The National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild (NIPNLG) is a national non-profit organization that provides technical assistance and support to community-based immigrant organizations, legal practitioners, and all advocates seeking and working to advance the rights of noncitizens.
The Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti (IJDH), is a partnership of Haitian and US human rights advocates working to implement a just and democratic government in Haiti and to uphold the rights of Haitian nationals living in the United States. IJDH’s Steve Forester has advocated for the rights of Haitians in the United States since 1979.