The ruling in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals could not have been more inopportune. As the United States celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month, a court panel determined that the administration of President Donald Trump can launch deportation proceedings against 300,000 immigrants from El Salvador, Nicaragua, Haiti and Sudan who are beneficiaries of the Temporary Protection (TPS).
In a 2-1 split decision, justices found that while President Trump did express animus against non-white and non-European immigrants, and that the White House influenced decisions to terminate the program, there is no evidence of that the president’s temper has motivated the termination of TPS or that the officials involved in the decision-making process have been prejudiced by racial animosity.
“Although we do not condone the offensive and derogatory nature of the president’s statements, we determine that these statements occurred mainly in contexts that were not related to the policy or decisions about TPS,” according to the final opinion signed by Judge Consuelo Callahan, appointed by George W. Bush.
In contrast, Justice Morgan Christen considered that the president’s “degrading” comments, descriptions of living conditions in those countries, as well as allusions to people rather than places, suggest that racial mood may have affected the decision of his administration starting the termination of the program.
Initiated in the 1990s, the TPS program was established by Congress to offer temporary protection to immigrants from Latin American and African countries who were at risk of returning to their countries primarily due to natural disasters or armed conflict.
Under TPS, immigrants from El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Haiti, Liberia, Nepal, Somalia, Syria, Sudan, and Yemen can obtain legal work permits in the United States and be protected from deportations, but the program does not offer a specialized route for the legalization of its beneficiaries.
Since its inception, the program had been renewed by successive US governments. The administration of President Donald Trump made the decision to begin the process of terminating the program on the grounds that the conditions that justify the continuation of the program no longer exist in the countries of origin of the beneficiaries.
A group of TPS recipients decided to sue the Trump administration alleging that the administrative procedures law was violated and that the president’s racial views influenced the decision to terminate the program. Initially, a judge preliminarily stopped the end of the program. But the appellate court panel reactivated the process that opens the door to deportations starting in January.
It is foreseeable that the outcome of the case will take place in the Supreme Court of Justice, since the plaintiffs have several legal resources.
But there is a faster and more humane solution. Tens of thousands of those “deportable” immigrants are now essential Hispanic workers. What better way for the Trump administration to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month than by reversing its decision to end TPS and giving those vital immigrants the peace and quiet they deserve.
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