Haitian, Salvadoran immigrants sue Trump over decision to end protections

Haitian, Salvadoran immigrants sue Trump over decision to end protections

Immigrants are suing President TrumpDonald John TrumpIran claims it rejected Trump meeting requests 8 times ESPY host jokes Putin was as happy after Trump summit as Ovechkin winning Stanley Cup Russian ambassador: Trump made ‘verbal agreements’ with Putin MORE after his decision to end the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for thousands of immigrants from Haiti and El Salvador.

The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Boston, looks to prevent the Trump administration from ending the protections, The Associated Press reported.

"Many of the plaintiffs have lived in the United States for decades," said Patricia Montes, executive director of Centro Presente, a Massachusetts-based Latin American immigrant organization that's a plaintiff in the case.

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"If TPS is terminated, they are at risk of losing everything — the homes and the businesses they have built, the families they have raised and the money they have invested into their communities," she said in a statement.

The lawsuit was filed by the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice on behalf of eight immigrants, according to the AP.

It alleges that the administration decided to end the protections for these immigrants based on "nothing but a thin pretextual smoke screen for a racially discriminatory immigration agenda."

Earlier this year, the Trump administration said it would end protections that allow 262,500 immigrants from El Salvador to stay in the country, forcing those people to either leave the country or find another means of legally staying in the United States.

Last year, the Trump administration said it was canceling the temporary residence program that allowed 59,000 Haitians to live and work in the U.S.

TPS benefits are awarded to foreign citizens residing in the United States whose home countries undergo devastating natural or man-made disasters, making a return dangerous or unsustainable. Previous Democratic and Republican administrations routinely renewed TPS country designations for the maximum 18-month period, based on a broad assessment of countries’ ability to reabsorb their emigrants.

But under Trump, the Department of Homeland Security moved to a stricter interpretation of the TPS statue, under which only conditions directly related to the original disaster are considered.

The lawsuit comes after Trump faced widespread backlash earlier this year following a report he referred to Haiti, El Salvador and some African nations as "shithole countries." Trump pushed back on the reported comments and denied he was racist.

The lawsuit cites those comments. It also includes a report last year that Trump, while complaining about immigration levels during his first months in office, suggested that Haitian immigrants "all have AIDS."

Last month, the NAACP sued the Department of Homeland Security, accusing the agency of taking irrational and discriminatory action in its decision to end the protective status for Haitians.

That lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland by the NAACP legal defense fund, argued the Trump administration's decision was "an egregious departure from the [Temporary Protected Status] statute's requirements and an intent to discriminate on the basis of race."

Updated at 9:59 a.m.