By Decision 2-1, the court also rejected the argument that the decisions to end TPS programs violated the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution because of President Trump’s derogatory comments about immigrants from countries non-European, mostly non-white. The judges acknowledged Mr. Trump’s “offensive” comments but could not find a direct link between them and the measures to remove TPS protections.“While we do not tolerate the offensive and derogatory nature of the President’s remarks, we find it instructive that these statements occurred primarily in remote contexts and not related to TPS policy or rulings,” the circuit judge said. American Consuelo Callahan, appointed by George W. Bush, wrote in the opinion of the majority.
In her dissent, U.S. Circuit Judge Morgan Christen, who was appointed by President Obama, said the TPS dismissals were reviewable and violated federal administrative law. Christen also pointed to the “monumental” consequences of the majority decision, which she described as “deeply flawed”.
“The importance of the interests at stake makes the argument for the possibility of a review even more compelling, because the lives of 300,000 non-citizens and 200,000 American child citizens will be forever changed by these TPS dismissals,” wrote Christen.
Given an agreement between Justice Department lawyers and groups challenging the end of humanitarian immigration programs, Monday’s decision also allows the administration to finalize its decisions to terminate TPS designations for Nepal and Honduras.
Established by Congress in the early 1990s, TPS programs are designed to prevent the deportation of immigrants to countries of origin affected by armed conflict, recover from natural disasters, cope with an epidemic, or fail to do so. cannot guarantee the safe return of their citizens.
Stripping current TPS recipients of their status would make them vulnerable to deportation, but their fate will likely depend on the outcome of the November presidential election, as the Trump administration has pledged to give immigrants enrolled in the programs 120 days. after a favorable court order to terminate. their protections.
Under a deal the Trump administration struck with El Salvador’s center-right government last fall, the United States agreed to give more than 250,000 Salvadoran immigrants with TPS an extra year to live and work. in the country after the conclusion of the dispute. The compromise came weeks after the Salvadoran government signed an agreement allowing the United States to redirect non-Salvadoran asylum seekers from the southern border to El Salvador.
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden has vowed to protect TPS holders from deportation to “dangerous” countries and to extend protections to Venezuelans who have fled the country’s economic collapse.
Ahilan Arulanantham, the lead lawyer challenging the end of humanitarian programs, said Monday’s ruling means non-Salvadoran TPS beneficiaries could lose their status as early as March 5, 2021. TPS protections for Salvadoran immigrants could expire in November 2021, he added.
Arulanantham, who is also the senior American Civil Liberties Union attorney for Southern California, said ending the TPS programs at the center of the case would present tens of thousands of child US citizens with a ” awful choice ”.
“This means that families with American teens and children in elementary and high school and middle school – like Crista Ramos, our main complainant in the case – would be faced with the choice to separate from their parents and move out. with an uncle or aunt, or by going to countries like El Salvador, Haiti or Sudan, which they have never known, ”Arulanantham said.
Arulanantham said his group expects to file a request for the 9th Circuit to reconsider Monday’s order through a “bench” vote by 11 judges. If this request is denied, the last resort for TPS recipients would be an appeal to the United States Supreme Court.
A spokesperson for the Department of Justice praised Monday’s ruling, denouncing arguments that racial animosity played a role in the TPS dismissals as “baseless accusations.”
“For about two years, the district court injunction prevented the Department of Homeland Security from taking action that Congress devolved solely at the discretion of the Secretary of Homeland Security – action which is statutorily excluded from judicial review.” , added the spokesperson.
Clare Hymes contributed to this report.