Citing President Donald Trump‘s “animus” for non-white immigrants, a federal judge in San Francisco on Wednesday blocked the administration from ending the temporary protection status of immigrants from four countries embattled with turmoil and violence.
U.S. District Judge Edward Chen granted a request for an injunction against the administration’s decision to strip the temporary protected status for people from Sudan, Nicaragua, Haiti and El Salvador.
Chen said there is evidence that “President Trump harbors an animus against non-white, non-European aliens which influenced his … decision to end the TPS designation,” and found the move would cause “irreparable harm and great hardship” for those affected by it.
Congress created TPS in the Immigration Act of 1990. The designation allows immigrants from countries affected by war or natural disasters to live and work legally in the United States until the situation in their home countries is deemed safe.
Some 300,000 people in the U.S. from ten countries – Yemen, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, Somalia, Nicaragua, Nepal, Hondorus, Haiti, and El Salvador – currently qualify for TPS.
Since January, the Trump administration has decided to terminate TPS for the four countries named in the lawsuit at different times.
The decision puts the fate of more than 200,000 immigrants who could face deportation in jeopardy. About 200,000 American children whose parents are in the TPS program are also at risk of being uprooted if the administration’s decision were to go into effect.
Chen’s ruling cited a 2015 campaign speech in which Trump said Mexican immigrants were largely drug dealers and rapists. The court also took into consideration Trump’s call to ban all Muslims from entering the U.S. and his reference to African countries as “shitholes” in January.
“Beneficiaries who have lived, worked, and raised families in the United States (many for more than a decade), will be subject to removal,” Chen wrote. He also said the government failed how continuing the program will harm the U.S.
Devin O’Malley, a spokesperson for the Justice Department, argued the ruling “usurps the role of the executive branch.”
“The Justice Department completely rejects the notion that the White House or the Department of Homeland Security did anything improper,” O’Malley said in a statement.
After the ruling, attorneys representing the plaintiffs in the lawsuit issued statements from some of the individuals affected by the case.
“I was so happy when I found out about the judge’s decision,” 14-year-old Crista Ramos, whose Salvadoran mother is in the program, said. “Ever since the TPS terminations were announced, I have been wondering how I can live a normal life if I am about to lose my mom.”