Meet the Plantiffs
On March 12, 2018, 9 TPS holders and U.S. citizen children of TPS holders sued the Trump Administration to challenge the termination of TPS for El Salvador, Haiti, Sudan and Nicaragua. Below are profiles of each plaintiff in the lawsuit.
Cristina, a mother and child care worker, and her 14-year old daughter, Crista
Cristina, 37 years old, is the mother of two children, 14-year-old Crista and 11-year-old Diego. Cristina is from El Salvador and has lived in the U.S. since 1993. She has had TPS since 2001, when she was 20 years old. Cristina now works as the director of an after school program at the Catholic school her children attend. She and her husband – her high school sweetheart – live in a home they own in Contra Costa County.
This is a far cry from Cristina’s childhood. She traveled to the U.S. without any family members when she was just 12 years old. Her mother had escaped domestic violence and fled before her, and Cristina followed—alone. Cristina and her children are worried about the effects of the termination of TPS on their family—and are committed to defend TPS for themselves and other families. Cristina suffered trauma when she was a child and wants to ensure that her children never experience the same.
Crista, Cristina’s eldest, is in the eighth grade. She is a motivated student and dreams of being an immigration lawyer. Crista worries about what will happen if her mother loses her TPS status. She depends on her mother and has never lived in or traveled to El Salvador. Both Cristina and Crista are plaintiffs in the lawsuit.
Elsy, a domestic worker, and her children—Maria, a college student with TPS, and Juan Jr., who was born in the U.S.
Elsy and her husband Juan are both TPS holders from El Salvador who are members of the National TPS Alliance. They have three children—Maria, who has TPS herself; and Juan Jr. and Joanna, who were both born in the United States and are U.S. citizens. Elsy, her husband, and their eldest daughter have lived in Washington, DC since 2000 and have had TPS since 2001.
Elsy’s parents and most of her siblings fled El Salvador during the country’s brutal civil war in the 1980s, and are now all either U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents in the United States. But Elsy was too young at the time to travel safely and remained behind. She joined them in the United States in 2000—and now has no remaining family in El Salvador. Elsy has worked as a domestic worker and child-care provider since 2004.
Maria was only one year old when she moved to the U.S., and about two years old when she had TPS. Maria, now 19 years old, only discovered she had TPS when it came time to apply for college and her immigration status made her ineligible for scholarships. She is currently a sophomore in college in Maryland studying mathematics with dreams of teaching math to elementary school students. She and her mother have only been back to El Salvador once and briefly.
Elsy, Maria, and Juan Jr. are plaintiffs in the lawsuit.
Sherika, a nurses’ assistant who came to the United States as a child, and her 5-year old daughter, Rilya.
Sherika, 27 years old, was born in Port de Paix, Haiti, and immigrated to the U.S. with her parents and two brothers when she was eight years old. She has had TPS since 2010 as do her parents and two brothers. Sherika discovered that she was (then) undocumented only when she graduated from high school in 2009 and could not apply for financial aid to go to college because of her immigration status. Being unable to afford college, Sherika trained successfully to become a certified nursing assistant (CNA) and a health unit coordinator (HUC).
Soon after she graduated from high school, Haiti was designated for TPS. Since then, Sherika has had either TPS or DACA. She has worked as a nursing assistant and health unit coordinator at a hospital near where she and her family live in south Florida. Sherika is married to a U.S. citizen and together they have three young daughters all under the age of six. Rilya is Sherika’s eldest daughter at five years old. She was born in Miami and is now in kindergarten.
Sherika’s TPS status has changed her life by giving her the opportunity to work, buy a car, rent a house, and raise a family. She fears that could all be taken away when TPS is terminated. Her children have never even been to Haiti, and Sherika has not returned since she was eight years old. She is committed to fighting to defend TPS for herself and her family, and for all the other families affected.
Both she and her daughter Rilya are plaintiffs in the lawsuit.
Orlando, a father who made his home in the U.S. for more than thirty years, and his son 14-year old son, Benjamin.
Orlando came to the U.S. from El Salvador, at the age of 18, in 1984. Orlando has worked for years in building maintenance, the last four years with the same company. Today, he is 51 years old, and has made his life in Los Angeles for 34 years. Orlando and his wife, both who have had TPS since 2001, have two U.S. citizen children who are twelve and fourteen years old.
About fifteen years ago, Orlando and his wife bought the home in which they now live.
Their eldest son, Benjamin, is 14 years old. Benjamin was born and raised in Los Angeles and is now a 9th grade student in High School. He has a younger sister, 12-year-old Lizbeth, and both depend on their parents for emotional, psychological, educational, spiritual and material support. The children know their lives would be upended if their parents lost their TPS status.
Orlando has lived in the U.S. nearly twice as long as he lived in El Salvador. His life is in the U.S. He left El Salvador in the middle of the country’s violent armed conflict and has not been back since. He fears he would not even recognize the country now. Neither of his two children have ever been to El Salvador.
Orlando is a member of the National TPS Alliance, and both he and his son, Benjamin, are plaintiffs in the lawsuit.
Mazin, a college student and national merit scholar who plans to be a pediatrician.
Mazin is 19 years old and was born in Sudan. While he is Sudanese by birth, his parents moved to Qatar when he was only one year old. When he was 14, his mother took him and his siblings and moved to the United States. Mazin, his mother, and siblings all have TPS.
Mazin arrived to Westbrook, Maine in time to start high school, and eventually graduated with honors. Today, Mazin is a sophomore majoring in Human Biology in college in Maine, and a recipient of the prestigious Merit-Based President’s Scholar Award. He plans to study to be a pediatrician.
Mazin does not believe that he could safely return to Sudan, has no right to return to Qatar. He has excelled at his studies in the U.S., while finding his life and community here.
Hiwaida, a technology professional who has lived in the U.S. for more than 20 years.
Hiwaida is a TPS holder from Sudan and a health educator, biologist, and entrepreneur. In 1997 she came to the United States on a visitor’s visa, but during her stay, the security situation severely deteriorated in Sudan. As a result, the U.S. government designated Sudan for TPS and Hiwaida remained because she could not safely return.
She has now lived in the United States for twenty years with her aunt’s family. For 16 years of those years, Hiwaida worked as a Health Educator at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. Always an entrepreneur, in 2015, she opened up her own restaurant. Despite her restaurant’s success, after the termination of TPS, she made the difficult decision to sell the business at great cost. This was especially difficult because of the extensive debt required to open the business.
Hiwaida has a Bachelors degree in biochemistry from before she arrived in the United States, and a Masters degree in Bioinformatics from Brandeis University. She decided to be a plaintiff because she knows that there are many others, like her, whose lives will be upended by these callous government decisions.
Wilna, an advocate for improving workers’ rights at her job, and her 14-year old daughter, Hnaida.
Wilna, 43 years old and the mother of two children, came to the United States from Haiti in 2000 after experiencing threats of violence in her hometown, Thomassique, Haiti. Since she arrived, she has lived and built her life in Orlando, Florida. She received TPS in 2010.
Wilna’s 14-year old daughter, Hnaida, and 10-year old son, John Poussin, are both U.S. citizens. Together, Wilna and her husband, who also has TPS, have bought a home for their family. Since 2014, Wilna has worked as a labor organizer for the union UNITE-HERE, and previously worked at Disney World. She is an active member of her church and has been a strong advocate for the TPS Alliance. She is wholly dedicated to her family and helping others, and worries about what the end of TPS means for her family.
Hnaida has learned from her mother’s example. She is a freshman honor roll student in high school and wants to join Student Council next year. She also sings in her church choir and plans to be an OB/GYN. Despite her young age, Hnaidda shares her mom’s concerns about the termination of TPS, and what that may mean about being separated from her mother or the only home she has only known.
Both Wilna and Hnaida are plaintiffs in the lawsuit.