N.Y. fed­eral judge blocks end­ing of pro­tec­tion for Haitians

The Buffalo News - - FRONT PAGE - By Jacqueline Charles MI­AMI HER ALD

NEW YORK – Ac­cus­ing the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion of be­ing mo­ti­vated by pol­i­tics and not facts, a sec­ond U.S. fed­eral judge is block­ing the U.S. Depart­ment of Home­land Se­cu­rity from forc­ing tens of thou­sands of Haitians to re­turn to Haiti by end­ing their tem­po­rary le­gal pro­tec­tion.

In a 145-page fed­eral rul­ing, U.S. Dis­trict Judge Wil­liam F. Kuntz of the East­ern Dis­trict of New York is­sued a na­tion­wide tem­po­rary in­junc­tion pre­vent­ing DHS from ter­mi­nat­ing Tem­po­rary Pro­tected Status, TPS, for Haitians. Kuntz said 50,000 to 60,000 Haitians and their U.S.-born chil­dren would suf­fer “ir­repara­ble harm” if the le­gal pro­tec­tion ended and they were forced to re­turn to a coun­try that is not safe.

Kuntz’s de­tailed rul­ing came out of a law­suit filed by Haitians in Florida and New York, chal­leng­ing the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion’s de­ci­sion to end TPS granted to Haiti by the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion af­ter its 2010 dev­as­tat­ing earth­quake. The ad­min­is­tra­tion has re­scinded the pro­tec­tion for Cen­tral America and some African na­tions as well.

“It’s a sweep­ing in­dict­ment of the po­lit­i­cal man­ner in which the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion at the very high­est lev­els of the gov­ern­ment il­le­gally ter­mi­nated Pro­tected Status for Haitians,” said Mi­ami im­mi­gra­tion at­tor­ney Ira Kurzban, one of sev­eral lawyers who filed the law­suit.

In Oc­to­ber, a fed­eral judge in Cal­i­for­nia granted a tem­po­rary in­junc­tion block­ing the ad­min­is­tra­tion from de­port­ing Haitian TPS hold­ers and oth­ers as their ter­mi­na­tion dead­lines ap­proach. U.S. Dis­trict Judge Ed­ward Chen granted the tem­po­rary in­junc­tion as part of a Cal­i­for­nia law­suit filed by lawyers on be­half of TPS re­cip­i­ents from Haiti, Nicaragua, El Sal­vador and Su­dan who have U.S.-born chil­dren.

Kurzban noted that un­like the Cal­i­for­nia case, which had not yet gone to trial when Chen is­sued his de­ci­sion, Kuntz’s de­ci­sion is the re­sult of a full­blown trial. The New York law­suit was the first of five to go to trial.

“It’s far more de­tailed in its rea­son­ing in re­spect to why what the gov­ern­ment did was com­pletely il­le­gal,” Kurzban said of Kuntz’s de­ci­sion. “It found find­ings on dis­crim­i­na­tion. ... It found very clearly that the gov­ern­ment’s de­ci­sion was not only an ar­bi­trary de­ci­sion, but they vi­o­lated their own pro­ce­dures in reach­ing the con­clu­sion that they reached.

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