U.S. federal Judge Edward Chen issued a preliminary injunction on October 3, 2018, temporarily blocking the Trump administration from terminating temporary protected status (TPS) for Sudan, El Salvador, Haiti, and Nicaragua while a legal challenge continues.
The judge held that there was “evidence that this [TPS termination] may have been done in order to implement and justify a pre-ordained result desired by the White House. Plaintiffs have also raised serious questions whether the actions taken by the Acting Secretary or Secretary was influenced by the White House and based on animus against non-white, non-European immigrants in violation of Equal Protection guaranteed by the Constitution. The issues are at least serious enough to preserve the status quo.”
A Department of Justice statement countered, “The court contends that the duly elected President of the United States cannot be involved in matters deciding the safety and security of our nation’s citizens or in the enforcement of our immigration laws. 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.”
Evidence in the lawsuit, Ramos v. Nielsen, includes email exchanges that appear to indicate that a predetermined goal of terminating TPS was set in advance of a substantial improvement in country conditions. The emails also appear to reflect internal discrepancies in some assessments of conditions with the conclusion that TPS should be terminated. For example, one email notes that under the TPS statute, TPS must be extended for an additional period of 6, 12, or 18 months if the statutory conditions supporting a country’s designation continue to exist, and that a review of conditions in Sudan indicated that it remained unsafe and that the statutory requirements for TPS designation continued to be met. The email includes remarks that the decision memo for Sudan “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.”