The ACLU Foundation of Southern California, with the National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON) and the law firm of Sidley Austin LLP, filed a lawsuit in federal court on behalf of nine people with Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and five United States citizen children of TPS holders against the Department of Homeland Security to stop the unlawful termination of TPS for more than 300,000 people living in the U.S. and to protect the tens of thousands of U.S. citizen children whose parents would be forced to leave under the administration's policy.

The Trump administration adopted a new, far narrower interpretation of the federal law governing TPS, and then used that interpretation to terminate TPS status for all individuals from El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Sudan.

The complaint also argues that the administration's restrictive view of the TPS laws was unconstitutional as it was adopted to further the administration's anti-immigrant, white supremacist agenda. Earlier this year, during a negotiation over the fate of people who have TPS status, Trump referred to the affected nations as "shithole countries."

The plaintiffs are members of diverse organizations fighting to defend TPS, including the National TPS Alliance, CARECEN-Los Angeles, the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT), UNITE-HERE, and African Communities Together.

Their lawsuit is the first to challenge the TPS terminations on behalf of the American children of TPS holders, and the first to challenge all four of the TPS terminations that have taken place under the Trump administration.

Case developments

June 15, 2023
 Plaintiffs filed a brief opposing the government’s motion to dismiss the appeal. Read the filing.

February 10, 2023
 The en banc Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals granted Plaintiffs’ petition for rehearing and vacated the opinion of the three-judge panel. Read the order.. 

November 30, 2020
 TPS holder plaintiffs filed a petition for panel rehearing and rehearing en banc in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Read the filing

September 14, 2020
 A divided three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit overturned the district court’s preliminary injunction and ruled that the Trump administration’s TPS termination decisions could go into effect. Read the panel's opinion

April 15, 2020
Plaintiffs filed a 28J letter highlighting the 130,000 TPS beneficiaries carrying out essential functions during the coronavirus pandemic. The letter provides additional weight for the district court's conclusion that enjoining TPS termination is in the public interest. Read the 28J letter.

January 31, 2019
Plaintiffs opposed the government’s appeal of the district court’s preliminary injunction. Read the filing

February 28, 2019
In compliance with the preliminary injunction issued in this case, the Department of Homeland Security filed a notice indicating that TPS will be automatically extended for El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua, Sudan to January 2020. See the notice at the Office of the Federal Register's website.

October 3, 2018
The Court issued a preliminary injunction blocking the Trump administration's termination of legal status for beneficiaries of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) from El Salvador, Nicaragua, Haiti and Sudan. TPS holders, some who would have lost legal status as early as November 2, 2018, will now maintain their right to stay in the country until the Court rules otherwise. Read the order granting Plaintiffs' motion for preliminary injunction.

August 23, 2018
TPS holders from four countries moved to stop the terminations that are scheduled to go forward as soon as November 2, 2018 (for Sudan), followed by planned TPS terminations for people from Nicaragua, Haiti, and El Salvador. The plaintiffs argued the terminations violate the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) and the prohibition on race discrimination in the Constitution’s Fifth Amendment.

Plaintiffs presented extensive documentation showing that the Trump Administration's decisionmaking process departed from standard practice to manufacture outcomes that do not correspond to the evidence. It also shows the White House repeatedly interfered with the TPS decisionmaking process in order to end the lawful immigration status of several hundred thousand people, many of whom had lived here for over a decade. (See some of the documents Plaintiffs uncovered on NDLON's website and listen to the "This American Life" segment that covers this development.) Plaintiffs also presented testimony about the harm that they face if TPS is terminated. Read the Motion for a Preliminary Injunction.

August 6, 2018
In the first ever ruling of its kind, Federal District Judge Edward Chen rejected the government's motion to dismiss the case. In his decision, Judge Chen held that "Plaintiffs have plausibly pled that President Trump made statements which a reasonable observer could construe as evidence of racial bias animus against non-white immigrants, and that he thereafter influenced and tainted DHS’s decision-making process with regard to TPS." Read the Order on Motion to Dismiss.

June 4, 2018
Plaintiffs responded to the government's motion to dismiss, contending that the Court had jurisdiction to hear this case, and the TPS holders and the U.S. citizen child plaintiffs had stated valid claims. Read the Opposition to Motion to Dismiss.

March 12, 2018
ACLU SoCal and partners filed the complaint in US District Court, Northern District of California. Read the class action complaint.


Ahilan Arulanantham, Jennifer Poon, Emilou MacLean, Jessica Karp Bansal, Mark E. Haddad, Alycia A. Degen, Sean A. Commons

Date filed

March 12, 2018


United States District Court, Northern District of California


Edward M. Chen



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