AG Racine Leads 17-State Coalition Against Trump Effort to Deport Salvadoran, Honduran, and Haitian Nationals

WASHINGTON, D. C. – Attorney General Karl A. Racine, along with his counterparts from California and Massachusetts, today led a group of 17 state attorneys general in an effort to stop the Trump Administration from withdrawing protections for hundreds of thousands of people from El Salvador, Haiti, and Honduras. If the administration’s efforts to end Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for foreign nationals from these three countries goes forward, families will be torn apart and individuals who have lived and worked legally in the United States for decades will be deported to countries that are unsafe and unprepared to receive them. 

“This administration’s cruel policy strips important legal protections from people who sought refuge from threatening situations in their countries, and puts the District and the country at risk for an economic and workforce crisis,” said Attorney General Racine. “This country welcomed my parents as refugees from political oppression in Haiti 50 years ago, and now President Trump wants to uproot people who have been living and working here legally for years. The administration must be held accountable for breaking the law and busting up innocent families.”

The District and partner states filed a friend-of-the-court brief today in Centro Presente v. Trump (Civil Action No. 1:18-cv-10340-DJC). The plaintiffs, which include immigrant organizations and a group of 14 individuals affected by the TPS decision, have called for courts to review the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) termination of TPS for individuals from these three countries. The plaintiffs argue that judicial review would serve as an important check on executive action they allege is unconstitutional and unlawful, and would prevent harm to hundreds of thousands of TPS holders who reside in the United States, their families, and their communities.

Today’s amicus brief, filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts, supports the plaintiffs and asks the court to deny the defendants’ motion to dismiss. The brief is available here.

The brief states that the Trump Administration’s actions will hurt the economy and civil society by:

  • Tearing families apart: The revocation of TPS would separate thousands of families who live in “mixed-status households,” where one or both parents hold TPS while some or all of the children are U.S. citizens;
  • Threatening states’ economies and workforces: A study conducted last fall found that ending TPS for these countries would cost a projected $160 billion in GDP, $6.9 billion in Social Security and Medicare contributions, and nearly $1 billion in employers’ turnover costs;
  • Disrupting care for vulnerable populations: Disproportionately large numbers of TPS holders from these countries work as care providers for children, seniors, and those with disabilities as well as health-care workers; their sudden removal from their positions in large numbers would disrupt care for these vulnerable groups;
  • Endangering public health: TPS holders who lose their authorization to work legally will lose their access to health care, thereby putting them at greater risk for disease and illness and increasing healthcare costs incurred by states;
  • Threatening public safety: Current efforts by the federal government to force local law-enforcement agencies to assist in federal immigration enforcement make it less likely that TPS holders who lose legal status and their families would report crimes to local authorities.

Federal law provides for TPS, which offers temporary lawful status to foreign nationals in the United States from countries experiencing armed conflict, natural disaster, or other extraordinary conditions that temporarily prevent their safe return. The Secretary of Homeland Security may designate a particular country for TPS for periods of 6 to 18 months, and can extend these periods if conditions do not improve sufficiently in the designated country. 

Over the last year, DHS decided to terminate TPS designations for Haiti, Honduras, and El Salvador. Haitians were granted TPS status in the wake of the January 2010 earthquake that killed hundreds of thousands of people in Haiti and devastated the nation’s already-fragile economy, infrastructure, government and health system. Salvadorans were granted TPS status in 2001, following a series of natural disasters and ensuing economic and political crises. The designations have been renewed regularly for all three groups because previous presidential administrations have found the countries could not ensure the safety of returning nationals. Earlier this year, Attorney General Racine led a coalition that urged Congress to extend TPS or provide a path to permanent legal status for TPS holders.

Joining today’s brief are attorneys general from California, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington.