Today, a federal judge in Maryland allowed a lawsuit to proceed against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) over its decision to rescind Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haitian immigrants.
The lawsuit, filed by the NAACP Legal Defense Fund (LDF) and Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP on behalf of the NAACP, Haitian Women for Haitian Refugees (HWHR) and Haitian Lawyers’ Association (HLA), claims that DHS, former Acting DHS Secretary Elaine C. Duke, and current DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielson violated the Fifth Amendment by racially discriminating against Haitian immigrants with TPS.
“The Trump Administration, including the Department of Homeland Security, has made its disdain for immigrants of color known,” said Raymond Audain, Senior Counsel at LDF. “The government’s decision to rescind Haitian TPS is a clear example of racial stereotypes driving policy decisions and we look forward to defending our clients in court.”
Haitian immigrants first received TPS in 2010 as part of DHS’s efforts to assist the country after it was struck by a 7.0-magnitude earthquake, one of the deadliest earthquakes in history. Haiti’s TPS designation had previously been extended due to many factors, including multiple hurricanes and a cholera outbreak. On November 20, 2017, DHS announced its plans to terminate TPS for Haiti, which would go into effect in May 2019, ignoring bipartisan pleas and evidence demonstrating that conditions in Haiti continue to warrant TPS designation.
“This is a win for Haitians, NAACP members and immigrants of color,” said Bradford M. Berry, NAACP General Counsel. “The decision to rescind TPS for Haitian nationals residing in the United States was a reflection of the hostility this administration has voiced against immigrants of color. It was wrong then and it’s wrong now.”
This Maryland district court case is one of seven cases attempting to block the Trump Administration’s plans to deport hundreds of thousands of immigrants with TPS. A federal judge in California ruled to temporarily block the Trump Administration and DHS from terminating TPS for immigrants from Haiti, Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Sudan—preventing over 300,000 people from being deported.
“The Haitian Lawyers Association is happy to see that we are one step closer to having our day in court and is profoundly grateful for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund’s work in ensuring that TPS registrants would not have their status terminated arbitrarily and in contravention to law,” said Pedro Gassant, HLA President.
“This is about resistance in the face of the Trump Administration’s discriminatory attack on our immigrant families,” said Ninaj Raoul of HWHR. “This case allows us to defend TPS against the unlawful termination of this humanitarian program. In the end, we are working to keep our families together and defend our basic constitutional rights.”
Read the full amended complaint filed by LDF here.
Founded in 1940, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) is the nation’s first civil and human rights law organization and has been completely separate from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) since 1957—although LDF was originally founded by the NAACP and shares its commitment to equal rights. LDF’s Thurgood Marshall Institute is a multi-disciplinary and collaborative hub within LDF that launches targeted campaigns and undertakes innovative research to shape the civil rights narrative. In media attributions, please refer to us as the NAACP Legal Defense Fund or LDF. Follow LDF on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.
Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation’s oldest and largest nonpartisan civil rights organization. Its members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities. You can read more about the NAACP’s work and our six “Game Changer” issue areas here.
Haitian Women for Haitian Refugees (HWHR) was founded in 1992 to respond to the human needs of Haitian refugees and immigrants in the U.S., fleeing persecution. Through education, community organizing, leadership development and collective action, HWHR members empower themselves as they struggle for social and economic justice. HWHR conducts leadership, organizing and worker education trainings for adult literacy learners where Haitian women make global connections to local realities. HWHR has also provided solidarity support to women-run organizations that respond to manmade and natural disasters in Haiti.
Founded in 1997, the Haitian Lawyers Association (HLA) is a 501(c)(3), a non-profit voluntary bar association in the State of Florida. HLA’s members include lawyers, law professors, law students and judges of Haitian, Haitian-American descent, as well as those who are not of Haitian descent, but have a vested interest in issues affecting the Haitian community. HLA is an organization dedicated to protecting and advocating for the legal rights of the Haitian community.