Ad­vo­cates take to court for im­mi­grants

Boston Herald - - NEWS - By MARIE SZANISZLO

Lawyers for the De­part­ment of Jus­tice yes­ter­day asked a fed­eral judge in Bos­ton to dis­miss a law­suit al­leg­ing the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion is dis­crim­i­nat­ing against im­mi­grants of color by end­ing tem­po­rary pro­tected sta­tus for hun­dreds of thou­sands of peo­ple from El Sal­vador, Haiti and Hon­duras who fled nat­u­ral dis­as­ters in their coun­tries.

At a hear­ing packed with im­mi­grants and their ad­vo­cates, Joseph C. Dugan, trial at­tor­ney for the U.S. De­part­ment of Jus­tice’s Civil Divi­sion, told Judge Denise J. Casper that both cur­rent and pre­vi­ous ad­min­is­tra­tions have de­ter­mined that an ex­ten­sion of tem­po­rary pro­tected sta­tus, or TPS, is ap­pro­pri­ate only where the con­di­tions that orig­i­nally prompted those pro­tec­tions con­tinue to ex­ist, not be­cause con­di­tions in a coun­try are gen­er­ally frag­ile.

“We’re not clas­si­fy­ing ... on the ba­sis of in­di­vid­u­als,” Dugan said. “Rather, we’re ar­gu­ing whether a coun­try qual­i­fies for TPS.”

Even if the court al­lows the claims the Lawyers’ Com­mit­tee for Civil Rights and Eco­nomic Jus­tice makes in its law­suit to pro­ceed, he said, the court should dis­miss Pres­i­dent Trump as a de­fen­dant, given that Congress has del­e­gated au­thor­ity to the sec­re­tary of home­land se­cu­rity, not the pres­i­dent, to make TPS de­ci­sions.

How­ever, Kevin O’Keefe, one of the lawyers for Cen­tro Pre­sente, an East Bos­ton im­mi­grant ad­vo­cacy group, said, “It is at least plau­si­ble that the ter­mi­na­tion of TPS” was racially mo­ti­vated.

Oren Nimni, a civil rights fel­low at the Lawyers’ Com­mit­tee for Civil Rights and Eco­nomic Jus­tice, ar­gued that pre­vi­ous ad­min­is­tra­tions “used to look at the con­di­tions on the ground” be­fore de­cid­ing whether to ex­tend or ter­mi­nate pro­tected sta­tus for im­mi­grants.

“The pur­pose of a TPS eval­u­a­tion is to de­ter­mine whether na­tion­als can re­turn safely to their coun­try of ori­gin,” Nimni said.

And Trump, as the di­rect su­per­vi­sor of the law­suit’s other de­fen­dants — the De­part­ment of Home­land Se­cu­rity, Home­land Se­cu­rity Sec­re­tary Kirst­jen Nielsen and Deputy Sec­re­tary Elaine Duke — is not im­mune, O’Keefe said.

Casper took the mo­tion to dis­miss the law­suit un­der ad­vise­ment.

About 300,000 Hon­durans, Sal­vado­rans and Haitians have been pro­tected from de­por­ta­tion since their coun­tries re­ceived TPS in 1999, 2001 and 2010, re­spec­tively. But the sta­tus is sched­uled to ex­pire in 12 to 16 months.

STAFF PHOTO BY CHRISTO­PHER EVANS

SEEK­ING PRO­TEC­TION: Im­mi­grant rights ad­vo­cates gather out­side John Joseph Moak­ley U.S. Courthouse yes­ter­day in the Sea­port.

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