Federal trial begins to protect more than 50,000 Haitian immigrants and their families from losing immigration status
Brooklyn, NY — Haitian immigrants affected by the Trump administration’s termination of Temporary Protected Status (TPS), along with Haitian community members, elected officials, faith and labor leaders and immigration advocates spoke out about the importance and possible impact of a critical lawsuit against the Trump administration over TPS termination for Haiti on Monday morning outside the federal courthouse in Brooklyn where the trial began today.
The lawsuit, Saget et al v. Trump, brought on behalf of nine individuals, a nonprofit organization, and a business that will be negatively impacted by this unlawful termination of Haitian TPS, argues that the termination of Haitian TPS was unlawful, unconstitutional, and motivated by President Trump’s public racial animus towards Haitians and other immigrants of color. If upheld, the termination of TPS will put more than 50,000 Haitian immigrants at great risk.
“Having TPS has made it possible for me to make a life here in New York, and to help support my son in Haiti,” said Gerald Michaud, one of the plaintiffs in the suit, who works as a wheelchair attendant at LaGuardia airport and has been a TPS holder since 2010. “I don’t know what I will do if I am forced to return to Haiti, and I know that many others are in the same position as me.”
“The Trump administration’s November 2017 decision to terminate Haiti’ TPS was immoral, racist, and unconstitutional. It has thrown the lives of thousands TPS recipients and their U.S. born children in turmoil,” said Marleine Bastien, Executive Director at Family Action Network Movement (FANM). “I hope that the judge will do the right thing to right this wrong, and protect these hard working, deserving individuals who contribute so much to our economy and communities across the U.S.”
“Trump’s decision to yank Haitians’ TPS is based on racism, demagoguery, and political pandering to xenophobes,” said Jocelyn Gay, employee at Haiti Liberté, organizational plaintiff. “It is illegal, arbitrary, and flies in the face of his own officials’ advice.”
The lawsuit alleges that the government violated the law in the way it ended TPS and that its decision to end it was premeditated, and motivated by racial animus. Evoking this country’s long history of discrimination against Haitians, the President has been heard making disturbing statements that Haitians “all have AIDS,” and describing Haiti as a “shithole countr[y]” in a meeting about TPS. The White House also exerted tremendous pressure on the officials charged with making TPS decisions.
“As a result of the Trump Administration’s unconstitutional and lawless decision to terminate their Temporary Protected Status, thousands of Haitian families are facing separation,” said Sejal Zota, Legal Director at the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild (NIPNLG). “We cannot allow this administration to repeatedly ignore our laws and allow racial animus to drive immigration policy.”
This will be the first trial challenging the government’s unlawful termination of Temporary Protected Status in the country. Experts on the conditions in Haiti and former DHS officials are scheduled to testify about why the decision to termination was unlawful.
“Haiti is a textbook case for why TPS is needed, due to three recent extraordinary catastrophes: the world’s deadliest cholera epidemic, 2016’s Hurricane Matthew, and the devastating 2010 earthquake,” said Steven Forester, Immigration Policy Coordinator at Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti. “Only Trump’s racism against Haitians can explain the decision to end TPS for Haiti.”
“Haiti cannot safely assimilate 50,000 people. This would destabilize the country, and would also have vast negative consequences on the economies of communities in Miami, New York and Boston,” said Alison Hirsh, Vice President, SEIU 32BJ. “The decision to terminate TPS must be reversed, and the new Congress must approve a legislative long term solution for Haitians and hundreds of thousands of TPS holders.”
“As a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, Chair of the CBC Immigration Task Force, and as a child of Caribbean immigrants, I am infuriated by this Administration’s cruel, inhumane, and racist decision to end the TPS program,” saidCongresswoman Yvette D. Clarke. “Today’s trial is critically important, as we demand a ruling that will strike down this unlawful termination for Haitian TPS.”
“Many of us in Congress have been actively fighting against Trump’s cruel policies against TPS holders, Dreamers and all immigrants,” said Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY). “I have authored legislation to offer TPS holders relief from deportation so they can continue to raise their families, run their businesses and use their skills to make their communities better. We must stand up to the Trump Administration’s anti-immigrant policies in every available venue – from Congress to the Courts.”
“Today, we want to send a clear message that the Trump administration’s attempt to rescind the protected status of TPS beneficiaries is malicious, unjust, and will adversely affect our interests here in the United States,” said Assemblywoman Michaelle C. Solages, the first person of Haitian descent elected to the New York State Legislature. “I applaud the initial stay and call on Congress to reinstate TPS and support legislation that provides a path towards legal status for these hardworking individuals.”
“Haiti’s socioeconomic infrastructure is not stable enough to handle an influx of Haitian nationals whose lives are being disrupted due to the end of Temporary Protected Status in July,” said Council Member Mathieu Eugene, who is Haitian American. “Today, I stand together with advocates and those fighting for immigration rights to ensure that the ability of our Haitian workers to pursue the American dream is upheld.”
“The termination of TPS, a vital humanitarian program that supports over 50,000 Haitian families, is evidence that policymaking under the Trump administration is clouded by racism and xenophobia,” said Carl Hamad-Lipscombe, Deputy Director of the Black Alliance for Just Immigration.
“The destructive premeditated termination of TPS is unconstitutional and otherwise illegal, and we look forward to the trial where it hopefully will be reversed,” said Ira Kurzban, veteran litigator at Kurzban & Kurzban.