Finally Some Good Immigration News!
In at least a temporary win for 300,000 immigrants legally allowed to be in the USA because of terrible conditions in their home countries, a federal judge in California has granted an injunction preventing the Trump administration from sending them back to countries that are still too fucked up to handle a huge influx of returnees. The decision temporarily blocks deportations of immigrants granted "Temporary Protected Status" (TPS) because of violence and natural disasters in Sudan, Haiti, Nicaragua and El Salvador. This decision won't end the Trump drive to Make America White Again, but it will at least prevent deportations until the case is finally settled by higher federal courts. Like maybe a SCOTUS with Brett "The Preznit can Do Anything and He Loves Me" Kavanaugh on it. Still, we'll take any nice time we can find, thanks!
Immigrants from all four countries have been allowed to stay in the USA, many for decades, because of wars or natural disasters. That status has been routinely extended by every president going back to George HW Bush since Congress established TPS in 1990, even though the immediate conditions that had led to the granting of TPS had passed.
The law explicitly states -- in two places -- that the Attorney General should consider whether those home countries are "unable, temporarily, to handle adequately the return to the state of aliens who are nationals of the state," and whether "there exist extraordinary and temporary conditions in the foreign state that prevent aliens who are nationals of the state from returning to the state in safety[.]"
The Trump administration has argued for a far narrower interpretation of the law that pretends current conditions can't be considered. Those earthquakes, hurricanes, and civil wars were a long time ago, so immigrants just HAVE to be ejected regardless of current conditions in those countries, because America First. Tough luck for you, time to go back to your shithole countries, OK?
US District Judge Edward M. Chen wasn't buying the government's claim that immigrants protected by TPS for years must suddenly be uprooted, most starting next year, as the Washington Post explains:
[Chen] found substantial evidence that the administration lacked "any explanation or justification" to end the "temporary protected status" designations for immigrants from those countries.
At the same time, he said there were "serious questions as to whether a discriminatory purpose was a motivating factor" in the administration's decision, which would violate the Constitution's guarantee of equal protection under the law.
He cited statements by President Trump denigrating Mexicans, Muslims, Haitians and Africans, including his January remark about "people from shithole countries" and his June 2017 comments stating that 15,000 recent immigrants from Haiti "all have AIDS."
Chen's order in the case, Ramos v. Nielsen, also held the administration had imposed the new interpretation of the law arbitrarily, in violation of federal laws governing changes in rule-making, and that the overall damage to those protected by TPS far outweighed the "damage" -- if any -- the USA would supposedly suffer by allowing them to stay until the case is finally adjudicated.
Translation: This would be terrible for people who have established lives here and who have children who are citizens, and you can't just scream "America First" and wave the word "Temporary" around to insist a sudden reversal of decades of policy is justified.
Judge Chen -- get ready for Trump to start calling him the Chinese Judge on Twitter -- cited not only Trump's public anti-immigrant statements, but numerous internal Trump Administration emails that frame ending TPS as a political decision, like a message from former acting DHS secretary Elaine Duke that read,
The TPS program must end for these countries soon [...] This conclusion is the result of an America first view of the TPS decision.
Chen cites another excerpt from Duke's justification emphasizing TPS had to end because of politics:
These decisions along with the public statements will send a clear signal that TPS in general is coming to a close. I believe it is consistent with the President's position on immigration [...]
So what the hell IS an "America First view' on TPS? Chen notes the plaintiffs argue it's little more than
a code word for removal of immigrants who are non-white and/or non-European. When the Court asked the government's counsel at the hearing what "an America first view of the TPS decision" meant, counsel was unable to provide a clear and direct response.
Oh, and also, the government lawyers mumbled Duke was talking about "migration and . . . drug enforcement issues and a general kind of perspective," which really clears things up, huh? For what it's worth, there's nothing in the TPS statute about drug enforcement. Oh, but that sure speaks to the potentially discriminatory motivation in the administration's decision to ignore current conditions that immigrants might have to face if they go back. Chen notes the administration threw out the usual rule-making process in deciding whether to extend TPS, and that the decision was motivated by racist stereotypes:
Also, funny thing: The State Department has travel advisories telling Americans conditions in all four countries -- five, now, since South Sudan is a new country) are so bad that tourists should avoid them:
El Salvador: (Level 3) "Reconsider travel to El Salvador due to crime."
Nicaragua: (Level 3) "Reconsider travel to Nicaragua due to crime, civil unrest and limited healthcare availability."
Haiti: (Level 3) "Reconsider travel to Haiti due to crime and civil unrest.
Sudan: (Level 3) Reconsider travel to Sudan due to terrorism and civil unrest. Some areas have increased risk. Please read the entire Travel Advisory.
South Sudan: (Level 4) "Do not travel to South Sudan due to crime and armed conflict."
But hey, we'll send immigrants back to places that are too dangerous for Americans. They might be OK, and anyway, not our problem. The only exception is South Sudan -- TPS for people from there has been extended to May 2, 2019.
So the good news is that for now, 300,000 people from El Salvador, Nicaragua, Haiti, and Sudan can remain safely in the USA, even though the administration is seriously keen to deport them -- and also their kids. That's 193,000 American Citizens who might either have to go with a deported parent, or find a way to stay by themselves in the USA.
See this Washington Post story on a Salvadoran family who until yesterday had been making plans for their 14-year-old daughter to stay in the US. Perhaps when she turns 21, she can apply to have her parents and brother come join her -- but only if they comply with all laws. At least until this mess makes its way through the courts, they can put off that Sophie's Choice a while longer.
And finally, a reminder to any trolls who might drop by: EVERYONE covered by TPS is by definition a legal immigrant, as if that matters to the Deport Everyone crowd. Go take your whining elsewhere.
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Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.