ICE arrest
A U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Fugitive Operations officer makes an arrest. Photo courtesy ICE.

One Year Ago Today (September 14, 2020)…A Los Angeles civil rights group blasted a federal appeals court ruling that allows the Trump administration to end the temporary protected status of at least 300,000 immigrants who live and work in the United States.

A divided three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco vacated a preliminary injunction that prevented the government from sending immigrants from El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nepal, Nicaragua and Sudan back to their home countries.

The plaintiffs were given protection in the U.S. because their countries suffered from war, natural disasters or other humanitarian emergencies that made it unsafe for their citizens abroad to return home. Because the protected immigrants have several hundred thousand American children — many of whom are school-aged — the decision could force those families to be torn apart, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.

President Donald Trump referred to Haiti, El Salvador, and various African nations as “shithole countries” in 2018. Ahilan Arulanantham, senior counsel of the ACLU, said, “The president’s vile statements about TPS holders made perfectly clear that his administration acted out of racial animus. The Constitution does not permit policy to be driven by racism. We will seek further review of the court’s decision.”

The decision affects 300,000 non-citizens and 200,000 of their children who are U.S. citizens. Pending appeals, TPS holders would lose their lawful status and their children could be forced to make a choice between their families and their homes.

“To end protections for over 400,000 TPS families, including the more than 130,000 people who have been risking their lives as essential workers in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, would be very cruel, especially during these difficult times,” said Paul Andre Mondesir, lead organizer for the Los Angeles-based National TPS Alliance.

“This is a difficult decision for our struggle but it is far from finished,” he said. “Our plaintiffs, our legal team, and the TPS community are preparing to appeal the decision in the entire Ninth Circuit. We will exhaust every legal recourse at our disposal to protect our community and our loved ones. We will take this fight all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary and continue to demand that Congress act now to pass a permanent residency.”

In friend-of-the-court briefs, 18 states including California, plus 34 local jurisdictions including Los Angeles city and county, supported the effort to keep the district court’s preliminary injunction in place.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said, “We will not stand idly by as our neighbors and colleagues are ripped from their families.”

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