Fam­i­lies sue over lift­ing of pro­tected sta­tus

Ac­tion cov­ers broad group in­clud­ing Sal­vado­rans, Haitians

The Dallas Morning News - - Nation & World - By DIANNE SOLÍS Staff Writer dso­lis@dal­las­news.com Twit­ter: @dis­o­lis

Another fed­eral law­suit was filed Mon­day on be­half of im­mi­grants who hold a type of tem­po­rary le­gal pro­tec­tion but face de­por­ta­tion as the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion lifts that pro­tec­tion.

This suit cov­ers a much broader group of peo­ple than two pre­vi­ous suits and in­cludes Sal­vado­rans, Haitians, Nicaraguans and Su­danese who hold Tem­po­rary Pro­tected Sta­tus, or TPS, and their U.S. cit­i­zen chil­dren. The suit, there­fore, has much more po­ten­tial im­pact.

Sal­vado­rans, Haitians, Nicaraguans and Su­danese are about to lose im­mi­gra­tion pro­tec­tions af­ter years of liv­ing in the United States.

The suit was brought by vet­eran lawyers of im­mi­gra­tion bat­tles, in­clud­ing Ahi­lan Aru­lanan­tham of the ACLU of South­ern Cal­i­for­nia. Aru­lanan­tham was a 2016 win­ner of a ge­nius award from the Macarthur Foun­da­tion.

The new suit is “the only one to raise claims on be­half of the cit­i­zen chil­dren of TPS hold­ers,” the ACLU at­tor­ney said. “They suf­fer a unique harm that the other cases have not ad­dressed, at least di­rectly.

“While the govern­ment may ar­gue that non-cit­i­zens have fewer rights in the im­mi­gra­tion con­text, that ra­tio­nale ob­vi­ously can­not ap­ply the same way when we speak of Amer­i­can cit­i­zens, and par­tic­u­larly those who are not yet adults.”

At the San Fran­cisco news con­fer­ence to an­nounce the suit, Emi Maclean, an at­tor­ney with the National Day La­borer Or­ga­niz­ing Net­work, high­lighted the es­tab­lished process for grant­ing TPS pro­tec­tion and the is­sue of race as well as past com­ments by Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump when talk­ing about the le­gal team’s strat­egy for the law­suit.

“The de­ci­sions by this ad­min­is­tra­tion to ter­mi­nate TPS were not based on coun­try con­di­tions as the law re­quires and as all prior ad­min­is­tra­tions have done,” Maclean said. “In­stead they were mo­ti­vated by racial an­i­mus.”

The National Day La­borer Or­ga­niz­ing Net­work and the cor­po­rate law firm of Si­d­ley Austin joined in the suit against the Depart­ment of Home­land Se­cu­rity.

In Wash­ing­ton, D.C., a spokes­woman for the Depart­ment of Home­land Se­cu­rity said the agency doesn’t com­ment on pend­ing lit­i­ga­tion as a mat­ter of pol­icy. Sup­port­ers of the ter­mi­na­tion have ar­gued that the le­gal sta­tus was tem­po­rary — and shouldn’t have been pro­longed with con­tin­u­ous re­newals, usu­ally af­ter 18-month pe­ri­ods.

TPS was es­tab­lished by law in 1990 for cer­tain coun­tries fac­ing civil con­flict and nat­u­ral dis­as­ter. It pro­vides work per­mits and de­por­ta­tion re­lief but not a path­way to U.S. cit­i­zen­ship.

There are more than 200,000 TPS hold­ers from these four coun­tries, ac­cord­ing to the suit, and they have about 220,000 U.s.-born cit­i­zen chil­dren. Only re­cently, though, has a National TPS Al­liance formed with lead­er­ship that in­cludes Fort Worth­based Ed­win Murillo, a TPS holder from El Sal­vador who at­tended the San Fran­cisco event.

The suit ar­gues that the fed­eral govern­ment didn’t fol­low proper pro­ce­dures of anal­y­sis of coun­try con­di­tions when it an­nounced TPS would end for those coun­tries. The lawyers also ar­gue that racial and national ori­gin an­i­mus drove the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion to make its rul­ings. The suit fur­ther al­leges that the ter­mi­na­tion de­ci­sion vi­o­lates the con­sti­tu­tional rights of school-age U.S. cit­i­zen chil­dren of TPS hold­ers by pre­sent­ing an “im­pos­si­ble choice: They must ei­ther leave their coun­try or live with­out their par­ents.”

In all cases, TPS hold­ers have been al­lowed to file for TPS a fi­nal time be­fore their per­mits ex­pire. The Sal­vado­rans, who rep­re­sent the largest group, have un­til Sept. 9, 2019.

Ear­lier this year, more nar­rowly fo­cused suits were brought by the NAACP and the Lawyers Com­mit­tee for Civil Rights in Bos­ton.

Four­teen-year-old Crista Ramos’ name is listed first among the plain­tiffs, which in­clude four other U.S. cit­i­zen chil­dren of peo­ple with TPS per­mits, as well as nine TPS hold­ers.

“I don’t think it is fair that I have to choose to stay in my coun­try or go to El Sal­vador with my mom,” said Ramos at a tele­vised news con­fer­ence in San Fran­cisco. “I don’t want the govern­ment to split my fam­ily.”

Jeff Chiu/the As­so­ci­ated Press

An­gela Hen­riquez hugged her chil­dren, Jes­sica (left) and Fer­nando, dur­ing a San Fran­cisco news con­fer­ence an­nounc­ing a law­suit against the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion.

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