A US federal judge on Wednesday has temporarily blocked the Trump administration from sending immigrants from catastrophe-stricken countries back home.
Since 1990, the US has allowed tens of thousands of immigrants to settle in the US while their countries recover from natural disasters and war under a program called Temporary Protected Status, or TPS.
Under Donald Trump, the Department of Homeland Security decided that conditions for citizens from Haiti, Sudan, Nicaragua and El Salvador are good enough for them to return, and ended TPS for those countries. But US District judge Edward Chen, from the Northern District of California, said the motivation behind those decisions appears to be something else: racism.
He cited a list of presidential statements that suggest Trump “harbors an animus against non-white, non European aliens.” He therefore sided with the plaintiffs, which are represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, and ordered the administration to stop implementing the changes until the case is resolved. Chen hasn’t yet ruled on the merits of the case.
It’s not the first time a federal judge uses Trump’s racially tinged statements to stall his immigration agenda. But the material that could potentially be used against the president keeps growing the longer he’s in office.
Here are the examples cited by Chen in his decision on the TPS case, slightly edited for clarity:
- In June 2015, Mr. Trump announced that he was running for President and delivered remarks characterizing Mexican immigrants as drug dealers or users, criminals, and rapists.
- “In December 2015, [Mr.] Trump called for ‘a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.’”
- In June 2017, President Trump stated that “15,000 recent immigrants from Haiti ‘all have AIDS’ and that 40,000 Nigerians, once seeing the United States, would never ‘go back to their huts’ in Africa.”
- On January 11, 2018, during a meeting with lawmakers where immigrants from Haiti, El Salvador, and African countries were discussed, including with respect to TPS designations that had been terminated, President Trump asked: “‘Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?’ [He] then suggested that the United States should instead bring more people from countries such as Norway,” which has a predominantly white population. He also told lawmakers that immigrants from Haiti “must be left out of any deal.”
- In February 2018, President Trump gave a speech at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference where he used MS-13 – a gang with many members having ties to Mexico and Central America – to disparage immigrants, indicating that that they are criminals and comparing them to snakes.)
- In July 2018, President Trump told European leaders that “they ‘better watch themselves’ because a wave of immigration of ‘changing the culture’ of their countries,’” which he characterized as being “‘a very negative thing for Europe.’” Degen Decl., Ex. 99 (Washington Post article).