Federal court rules Trump administration can end TPS status of immigrants

Federal court rules Trump administration can end TPS status of immigrants

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Monday against a judgment made in 2018 that blocked the Trump administration’s move to terminate immigration protections of nationals from four countries. The original injunction essentially was made due to remarks President Trump made in the past that became an excuse for the judge to allow continued Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to them. The latest ruling corrects that.

The Court of Appeals panel ruled 2-1 in favor of the Trump administration’s plan to deport illegal aliens from El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Sudan, as well as Haiti. This would end the protected status that some have enjoyed for up to twenty years. They were originally granted protected status due to natural disasters, war, and other upheavals in their home countries. The injunction lifted on the illegal aliens from Haiti is separate from the other countries. The 9th Circuit’s decision includes lifting the injunction on those from Haiti but a New York federal judge’s injunction preventing Haitians from being deported remains in place. The ruling on Haitians is a parallel order.

The appeals court panel ruled against the argument that Trump wants to end TPS for them because he is a racist bad man. That isn’t the legal wording but the original injunction was put in place because of remarks Trump previously made, such as his reference to “s***hole countries”. The panel rejected Trump’s remarks, mind you, but didn’t accept the premise that the remarks were reason enough to put an injunction on deportation in place. The judges “do not condone the offensive and disparaging nature of the President’s remarks.”

The appeals court panel also rejected arguments that the moves to end TPS for the four countries at issue was driven by President Donald Trump’s alleged racial and anti-immigrant bias demonstrated through a series of inflammatory public comments, including in a January 2018 discussion at which he referred to “shithole countries.”

“Plaintiffs fail to present even ‘serious questions’ on the merits of their claim that the Secretaries’ TPS terminations were improperly influenced by the President’s ‘animus against non-white, non-European immigrants,’” wrote Callahan, an appointee of President George W. Bush. She added that the suit suffered from “a glaring lack of evidence tying the President’s alleged discriminatory intent to the specific TPS terminations.”

Callahan said it was not improper for White House officials to emphatically urge officials at DHS to terminate the TPS programs. “The mere fact that the White House exerted pressure on the Secretaries’ TPS decisions does not in itself support the conclusion that the President’s alleged racial animus was a motivating factor in the TPS decisions,” she wrote.

The Secretary of Homeland Security has broad discretion when it comes to TPS determination. The Secretary is responsible for determining which countries fall into TPS status, with certain limited statutory criteria met. Judge Consuelo Callahan, a George W. Bush appointee, and Judge Ryan Nelson, a Trump appointee ruled in favor of rejecting the injunction. Judge Morgan Christen, an Obama appointee, dissented.

Plaintiffs in the case – U.S.-citizen children of those covered by TPS – expressed their disappointment.

“This government has failed me and the other 250,000 U.S. citizen children of TPS holders,” said Crista Ramos, whose mother is from El Salvador and has TPS status. “If this decision stands, it means Trump’s termination of TPS will move ahead and TPS holders will only have until January 2021 to legally live and work in this country. We need our senators to act now and pass the Dream & Promise Act to grant TPS holders a permanent residency before another wave of family separations occurs.”

This ruling doesn’t go into effect immediately. The illegal immigrants will be required to find other ways to remain in the U.S. legally or be deported after a wind-down period of at least six months. People from Sudan, Nicaragua, and Haiti could be deported as soon as March 2021. The people from El Salvador have longer, until November 2021.

Immigrants from El Salvador make up the largest group of TPS recipients, an estimated 263,000, but a bilateral agreement will allow Salvadorans an extra year to stay in the U.S. if the courts ultimately uphold Trump’s termination of the program.

The Department of Justice is pleased with the ruling.

A spokesperson for the Justice Department said officials are “pleased” with the 9th Circuit ruling. “For approximately two years, the district court’s injunction prevented the Department of Homeland Security from taking action that Congress has vested solely within the discretion of the Secretary of Homeland Security — action that is statutorily precluded from judicial review. We applaud the Ninth Circuit’s recognition of the plain language of the Immigration and Nationality Act and its rejection of the baseless accusations of animus behind the actions taken by the Department of Homeland Security,” the spokesperson said.

This case will likely go to the Supreme Court.

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David Strom 5:21 PM on March 31, 2023