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August 24, 2018
Contact: Armando Carmona, NDLON, 323-250-3018,
ACLU SoCal Communications & Media Advocacy, 213-977- 5252, 

Documents Reveal How Trump’s Racist “America First” Agenda Pressured DHS to End Humanitarian Program​
TPS Holders Seek Court Intervention to Prevent the Termination of Legal Immigration Status

SAN FRANCISCO – On Thursday, nine holders of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and five of their U.S. citizen children filed a request for a preliminary injunction to halt the terminations of TPS for Sudan, Nicaragua, Haiti, and El Salvador. In their court filing, plaintiffs disclosed for the first time Department of Homeland Security (DHS) documents, which show that Trump Administration surrogates working within the Department of Homeland Security manipulated the decision making process to terminate TPS status for people from these countries, even though the conditions on the ground required them to extend TPS under the law as written.

In personal notes to herself, then Acting DHS Secretary Elaine Duke wrote:

“The TPS program must end for these countries soon…This conclusion is the result of an America first view of the TPS decision.”

Further, on the eve of the decision to terminate TPS for Sudan, current USCIS Director Francis Cissna accurately described USCIS’ memorandum recommending an end to TPS for Sudan:

“This memo reads like one person who strongly supports extending TPS for Sudan wrote everything up to the recommendation section, and then someone who opposes extension snuck up behind the first guy, clubbed him over the head, pushed his senseless body out of the way, and finished the memo. Am I missing something?”

The terminations are due to begin as early as November 2, and would leave hundreds of thousands without legal status they and their families have relied on for years or decades.

“After more than 20 years in the United States, my entire life was upended the day the government abruptly announced the end of TPS for Sudan,” said Hiwaida Elarabi, a 55-year-old TPS holder from Sudan and plaintiff in the case. “Today, I stand with hundreds of thousands of TPS holders who together seek to stop catastrophic—and illegal—terminations of humanitarian protection.”

“The DHS documents we have uncovered show the lengths to which the Trump administration has gone to end a reliable and congressionally mandated form of humanitarian immigration protection,” said Emi MacLean, co-legal director of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON). “The court, our elected representatives, and the public must reject the racist manipulation of government decisionmaking that led to these TPS terminations. Trump will not have the last word.”

Plaintiffs seek to enjoin the planned TPS terminations as violations of the Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause and the Administrative Procedure Act. “The evidence is clear: the Trump administration broke the law and violated the Constitution to advance its white supremacist immigration policy agenda,” said Ahilan Arulanantham, senior counsel at the ACLU Foundation of Southern California (ACLU SoCal). “We look forward to holding them accountable in Court.”

The plaintiffs are represented by NDLON, the ACLU SoCal, and the law firm of Sidley Austin. The plaintiffs are members of diverse organizations fighting to defend TPS, including the National TPS Alliance, CARECEN-Los Angeles, UNITE-HERE, and African Communities Together. Read the filing, plaintiffs’ stories and the newly released documents here.

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