Federal judge asks whether Trump's ‘America First’ agenda is being used to camouflage racial animus

A federal judge in San Francisco is asking whether President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump's top adviser on Asia to serve as deputy national security adviser United Auto Workers strike against GM poised to head into eighth day Trump doubles down on call to investigate Biden after whistleblower complaint: 'That's the real story' MORE’s “America first” agenda is camouflage for racial hostility.

U.S. District Judge Edward Chen on Tuesday heard arguments over whether the Trump administration should be blocked from rolling back parts of a George H.W. Bush-era policy that allows foreign nationals from certain countries affected by armed conflict or natural disaster to temporarily live and work in the U.S., Bloomberg reported. 

Roughly 300,000 people from El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Sudan could be deported if the Trump administration is successful in overturning sections of the policy, the news outlet noted.

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Chen noted a memo authored by former Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Deputy Secretary Elaine DukeElaine Costanzo DukeDOJ to Supreme Court: Trump decision to end DACA was lawful Supreme Court to hear cases on Trump efforts to end DACA Appeals court rules Trump end of DACA was unlawful MORE that stated the Temporary Protected Status policy “must end for these countries soon” in order for the country's immigration policies to be compliant the president’s “America first” agenda, according to Bloomberg.

The federal judge then pressed a Justice Department attorney, Adam Kirschner, about whether the president’s slogan phrase was being used to camouflage immigration policies some perceive to be discriminatory. 

He also reportedly referred to Trump’s alleged past references to countries like Haiti, El Salvador and African nations as “shithole countries.”

“The inference plaintiffs make is that this is code for ending immigration status for those who are non-white. What do you make of that?” Chen asked.

In response, Kirschner said the policy in question came from Duke and John KellyJohn Francis KellyMORE, the former DHS secretary and current White House chief of staff, who he said have not been accused of racial discrimination.