Haitian immigrants are reportedly suing President TrumpDonald TrumpSenate rejects attempt to block Biden's Saudi arms sale Crenshaw slams House Freedom Caucus members as 'grifters,' 'performance artists' Senate confirms Biden's nominee to lead Customs and Border Protection MORE's administration over its immigration policies.
The lawsuit — filed Thursday in New York federal court — alleges that racism played a part in the administration's move to end the temporary protected status (TPS) for thousands of immigrants from Haiti.
The immigrants claim the administration's decision was based on "nothing but a thin pretextual smoke screen for a racially discriminatory immigration agenda."
In January, Trump reportedly referred to Haiti as a "shithole" during an Oval Office meeting with lawmakers.
“Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?” Trump asked, according to some of those present, adding that the U.S. should take in more immigrants from nations like Norway.
The lawsuit includes those remarks, as well as reports that Trump once said Haitian immigrants "all have AIDS."
The lawsuit is filed against Trump and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials, according to The Associated Press.
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.
The lawsuit says the Trump administration's move to end the protections for Haitian immigrants violates their due process rights “because the termination was based on the President’s categorical and defamatory assertions about all Haitians, which the Haitian TPS recipients were given no opportunity to challenge."
DHS spokeswoman Katie Waldman told the AP the department doesn't comment on pending litigation.
Last month, Haitian and Salvadoran immigrants filed a separate lawsuit in Boston trying to stop DHS's action.