WASHINGTON, D. C. – Attorney General Karl A. Racine led a coalition of 22 attorneys general in filing a friend-of-the-court brief seeking to stop the Trump administration’s attempt to strip longtime residents of their rights to live and work in the United States, making them subject to possible deportation. The amicus brief, filed in the Ramos v. Nielsen case before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, supports a lawsuit opposing the administration’s termination of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for thousands of American residents who come from Haiti, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Sudan who cannot return to those countries due to unsafe conditions. The multistate coalition asks the Ninth Circuit to uphold a preliminary nationwide injunction that the plaintiffs obtained in a lower court, blocking the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) from ending TPS for these residents.
“The Trump administration’s policy is illegal, arbitrary, and cruel,” said AG Racine. “The District of Columbia is home to thousands of hard-working and productive TPS beneficiaries, and we will do everything we can to protect them from deportation to their fragile countries of origin.”
TPS protects individuals in the United States who cannot return to their home countries because of armed conflict, natural disasters, or other conditions that make the countries unsafe. Many TPS holders have lived in the U.S. for a decade or more and have started families and businesses, bought homes, and significantly contributed to their communities. Under the Trump Administration, DHS changed its long-standing practice of looking at the entirety of the conditions in a country when determining whether it is safe for TPS holders to return. Without any substantial explanation, DHS argued that it can only look at the original conditions in home countries that prompted its TPS designation when deciding whether to extend that designation. This new policy ignores conditions in those countries that arose after TPS holders were granted their protected status and that pose serious threats to TPS holders’ safety.
The plaintiffs alleged that DHS enacted its new rule without following the legally required procedure for such new rules. The lower court agreed and stopped DHS from implementing the new policy pending the final outcome of the case. The brief by the attorneys general notes that DHS’s actions are contrary to the public interest and will harm District residents and the partner states’ residents in several ways, including:
- Tearing families apart: If the Trump rule change takes effect, thousands of families in the District and hundreds of thousands more nationwide would be at risk for sudden forced separation if the TPS beneficiaries are deported. Hundreds of thousands of children who are U.S. citizens would likely suffer trauma and hardship from unnecessary and forced separation if their parent is deported.
- Damaging local economies: The majority of TPS holders hold full-time jobs or own small businesses. These residents suddenly losing their ability to work legally could disrupt and damage local economies, including the District’s, and reduce tax revenues to the District and other affected jurisdictions.
- 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. Suddenly removing these workers 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.
A copy of the amicus brief in Ramos v. Nielsen is available at https://oag.ca.gov/system/files/attachments/press-docs/ramos-9th-cir.states-amicus-brief.pdf
AG Racine, California AG Xavier Becerra, and Massachusetts AG Maura Healey co-led the amicus brief, and were joined by attorneys general from Connecticut, Delaware, Hawai’i, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington.