Trump Blocked From Deporting 300,000 Protected Immigrants

(Bloomberg) -- A federal judge in San Francisco blocked the Trump administration from overturning portions of a George H.W. Bush-era humanitarian policy that offers U.S. residency to nationals from countries facing perilous conditions.

The decision temporarily protects about 300,000 people from El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Sudan from mass deportations at the hands of Trump’s Department of Homeland Security. More broadly, U.S. District Judge Edward Chen’s preliminary injunction halts the administration from stripping those four nations of their Temporary Protected Status, which recognizes that they are dangerous places to live due do natural disasters, drug epidemics or armed conflict.

The Justice Department argued that Trump’s “America First” agenda shaped the decision to end TPS. Plaintiffs argued that was simply code for the government’s efforts to block non-whites from immigrating to the U.S., a violation of the U.S. Constitution’s equal protection clause.

“A motivating factor in these decisions is the racial animus of the president,” said Ahilan Arulanantham, an ACLU attorney arguing for plaintiffs. “We don’t have code in this case. We have blatant, rank discrimination from the most powerful person in the government.”

Chen sided with those residents on the cusp of deportation.

“Plaintiffs have provided sufficient evidence to raise serious questions as to whether a discriminatory purpose was a motivating factor in the decisions to terminate the TPS designations,” Chen wrote in his temporary order.

“The court’s decision usurps the role of the executive branch in our constitutional order,” Devin O’Malley, a spokesman for the Justice Department, said in a statement Wednesday. “The Justice Department completely rejects the notion that the White House or the Department of Homeland Security did anything improper. We will continue to fight for the integrity of our immigration laws and our national security.”

At a hearing last month, Chen asked Justice Department lawyers if Trump’s “America First” slogan was being used by the president’s lieutenants to camouflage discriminatory immigration policies.

The case is Ramos v. Nielsen, 3:18-cv-01554, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Francisco).

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