- Reuters/Kyle Grillot
- A federal judge has blocked the Trump administration from ending a program that protects roughly 300,000 immigrants from deportation.
- The program, known as Temporary Protected Status or TPS, has allowed certain immigrants from El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Sudan to live and work in the US legally after their home countries were plagued by natural disasters or civil conflicts.
- The Trump administration has sought to end those protections, potentially forcing those immigrants to return to countries they say are unsafe.
- US District Judge Edward Chen said in his decision that the Trump administration’s decision to end TPS raises serious questions about racial animus.
A US federal judge in California barred the Trump administration on Wednesday from implementing a plan to end temporary protections for more than 300,000 immigrants in the United States from El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua and Sudan.
US District Judge Edward Chen issued a preliminary injunction in a suit brought by a number of immigrants with temporary protected status, or TPS.
The TPS designation offers protection from deportation to immigrants already in the United States, including those who entered illegally, from countries affected by natural disasters, civil conflicts and other problems.
The government has failed to establish any real harm if “the status quo (which has been in existence for as long as two decades) is maintained during the pendency of this litigation,” Chen wrote in the order.
“Indeed, if anything, 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,” he said.
Chen also noted that racial “animus against non-white, non-European immigrants” was an issue serious enough to merit blocking the Trump administration’s actions.
The Justice Department quickly hit back at Chen, saying his decision “usurps the role of the executive branch.” A spokesman added that the Trump administration will challenge his decision.
“The Court contends that the duly elected President of the United States cannot be involved in matters deciding the safety and security of our nation’s citizens or in the enforcement of our immigration laws,” the spokesman said in a statement.
There are more than 240,000 TPS beneficiaries from El Salvador, 58,000 from Haiti, 5,000 from Nicaragua and 1,000 from Sudan, according to court documents.
The Trump administration has shown a deep skepticism toward the temporary protected status program and has moved to revoke the special status afforded to thousands of immigrants from a number of countries, including the four named in the suit.
Salvadoran immigrants covered by TPS will lose their protected status in September 2019, those from Haiti in July 2019, Nicaraguan immigrants in January 2019 and Sudanese immigrants in November 2019.