SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) - Nine immigrants and five citizen children sued the administration of President Donald Trump in federal court in San Francisco today in a bid to end the termination of their permission to remain in the United States.
The immigrants are from El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua and Sudan and currently have temporary protected status, or TPS, granted to people from countries facing natural disasters, armed conflict or other upheaval.
Over the past 14 months, the Trump administration has terminated that status, effective at various times in 2019.
More than 300,000 people from the four counties have been granted TPS approval and some have been in the U.S. for up to 20 years. They have more than 200,000 children who are citizens.
The lawsuit claims that the termination of TPS status violates the constitutional rights of due process and equal protection as well as the federal Administrative Procedure Act, which prohibits arbitrary and
capricious actions by administrative agencies.
The citizen children born in the U.S. also claim the action impairs their liberty rights to remain in the United States and to be with their families, by forcing them to choose between leaving the country and
being raised by their parents.
The lawsuit also alleges Trump's decision was motivated by racism. It cites the president's alleged reference in January to Haiti, El Salvador and certain African nations as "s---hole countries."
The TPS termination "arises from the Trump Administration's repeatedly expressed racism toward non-white, non-European people from other countries," the lawsuit claims.
Plaintiff Sherika Blanc, 27, of Valrico, Florida, came to the U.S. from Haiti at age 8 and is now a nursing assistant and health unit coordinator at a hospital.
At a news conference outside the federal courthouse in San Francisco this morning, she said, "I'm not asking him (Trump) to give us equal rights, I'm asking him to stop denying the rights that everyone has."
Plaintiff Mazin Ahmed, 19, who came from Sudan six years ago and is now a college student in Maine, said, "We're not doing this just for ourselves, but for everyone to get their rights."
The lawsuit asks for a court order declaring that the TPS termination was unconstitutional and illegal and cannot be enforced.
A lawsuit challenging the termination of the program for Haitians was filed in federal court in Boston in January and a second lawsuit on behalf of Haitians and Salvadorans was filed in federal court in Baltimore in February.
But today's case is the first to claim the constitutional rights of citizen children whose parents have had TPS rights. The defendants in the lawsuit are the United States and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.