National News

Trump administration asks judge

Posted June 12, 2018 7:22 p.m. EDT

to dismiss suit over deportation

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Trump administration asked a San Francisco federal judge Monday to dismiss a lawsuit challenging its withdrawal of protections from deportation for more than 200,000 people from four countries, saying courts have no authority to review the decision even if -- as the suit alleges -- it was motivated by racism.

The Department of Homeland Security has ordered the removal of Temporary Protected Status for people from El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua and Sudan. Federal law grants that status to people who have fled catastrophic conditions in their home countries, allowing them to live and work in the United States under permits that need to be renewed every 18 months.

Salvadorans were granted protection after a series of earthquakes in 2001, Haitians after an earthquake in 2010, Nicaraguans after a hurricane in 1999, and Sudanese after fleeing a civil war in 1997. Past administrations have renewed their status and those of residents of six other nations, but the Trump administration said last year that the protections for the four countries would be withdrawn, and their residents deported, because the original disasters and related problems have ended.

The suit was filed in March on behalf of nine adults from the four nations and five U.S.-born children, represented by the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Day Laborer Organizing Network. They argued that the revocation unlawfully required the children to choose between leaving their native country and losing one or both parents, arbitrarily changed past government practices without explanation, and was unconstitutionally based on racial discrimination.

The suit cited President Trump's vulgar slur against African nations and Haiti in January and his evidence-free assertion last year that Haitian immigrants ``all have AIDS.'' It is one of several lawsuits in different states challenging the revocations.

In Monday's filing, Justice Department lawyers did not refer to Trump's statements and instead said his Homeland Security secretaries, who announced the revocations in a series of decisions, each had a legitimate, ``facially bona fide reason'' -- a determination that conditions had improved -- that was free of ``personal animus'' against the prospective deportees. They said courts have considered such decisions to be ``immune from judicial second-guessing.''

But the lawyers also said Congress, when it established Temporary Protected Status, had barred judicial review of the government's decision to grant or revoke it for any country. That immunity applies to ``all claims challenging TPS determinations,'' including claimed violations of the constitutional guarantee of equal protection, the Justice Department said.

``The solution to (the plaintiffs') concern lies in Congress, not this court,'' government lawyers said.

U.S. District Judge Edward Chen has scheduled a hearing June 22 to decide whether to dismiss the suit.