A lawsuit filed to a federal court Thursday on behalf of Haitian and Salvadoran immigrants claims that the Trump administration ended Temporary Protected Status — a program that shielded them from deportation on the grounds that conditions in their home country are unsafe — because the president is prejudiced against black and Latino immigrants. Trump announced in November that he would end TPS for Haitians and followed up in January with an end to the program for Salvadorans, claiming that both countries have recovered sufficiently from the natural disasters that had justified the TPS protections.
But removing the protections is "nothing but a thin pretextual smoke screen for a racially discriminatory immigration agenda," the lawsuit claims. AP says that the suit specifically notes remarks that Trump made during his presidential campaign disparaging immigrants, including when he called Mexicans "rapists." The suit also cites reports that Trump said that Haitians who came to the U.S. in 2017 "all have AIDS," as well as the reports that Trump referred to African nations as "s--tholes" last month.
The goal of the lawsuit, which was filed by Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice, is to prevent the Trump administration from removing the TPS protections. If the lawsuit does not succeed, Haitian immigrants living in the U.S. under TPS would have to leave the country July 22, 2019. Salvadorans would have to leave by Sept. 9, 2019.
Salvadorans were granted TPS after devastating earthquakes in 2001, while Haitians were included in 2010 after a massive quake struck the island. There are reportedly almost 200,000 Salvadorans and close to 59,000 Haitians who are currently in the U.S. under TPS.