TPS Terminations, Motivated by Racism, Would Tear Families Apart
SAN FRANCISCO — Six adults with Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and two U.S. citizen children of TPS holders filed a class-action lawsuit today seeking to stop the unlawful termination of TPS for over 100,000 TPS holders from Honduras and Nepal and prevent the separation of tens of thousands of U.S. citizen children from their TPS-holder parents.
The suit was filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California. Plaintiffs are represented by the ACLU Foundation of Southern California, ACLU Foundation of Northern California, Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Asian Law Caucus, Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Los Angeles, the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, and the law firm of Sidley Austin LLP.
In October of 2018, the court enjoined the termination of TPS for Sudan, Nicaragua, Haiti, and El Salvador, finding substantial evidence that the terminations were motivated by racism and violated the Administrative Procedure Act. Plaintiffs in Bhattarai v. Nielsen allege that the terminations of TPS for Honduras and Nepal suffer from the same legal flaws and should be set aside. Plaintiffs also allege that the terminations are unconstitutional because they require the U.S. citizen children of TPS holders to choose between their country and their family.
Plaintiff Keshav Raj Bhattarai, a member of Adhikaar and Nepali TPS holder shares, "I am proud to be a part of this lawsuit, for all the other Nepali TPS holders like me. With TPS I have been able to build a new life here with my family and I have a found a stable job. When I see so many people's lives at risk in losing TPS, I am troubled to see that this country would harm its hardworking workers and people. I wish to continue working to support this country, and also continue supporting the rebuilding of Nepal, which is still recovering from the earthquake."
The complaint filed today alleges that, in terminating TPS for Honduras and Nepal, political appointees in the Department of Homeland Security deliberately ignored recommendations from U.S. Ambassadors and evidence of conditions on the ground. Instead, they predetermined that TPS must be terminated to further the president's "America First" policy, which seeks to exclude non-white, non-European immigrants. The complaint recites a litany of racist statements made by President Trump in reference to Latin American and South Asian countries and immigrants, including referring to immigrants as snakes and animals, mispronouncing Nepal as "nipple," and faking an Indian accent in imitation of Indian Prime Minster Narendra Modi.
Plaintiff Donaldo Posadas Caceres, a member of the painters union (IUPAT DC21) with TPS from Honduras explains, "I'm taking part in this lawsuit not just for myself and my daughter but for everyone who would be hurt by our TPS being taken away. Forcing our children to choose between the life they have here or a country they don't know is unfair. Sending all of us to danger and instability is unjust. I'm proud to have been a union painter for two decades in this country and it does not feel right to see all of that just cut away."
Jessica Bansal, NDLON's co-legal director, said: "The Trump Administration is illegally trying to gut the humanitarian TPS program, but TPS holders are fighting back. They have already won a temporary reprieve for hundreds of thousands of TPS holders. With today's filing, they seek to protect tens of thousands more."
Plaintiffs in the lawsuit are members of diverse organizations fighting to defend TPS in the courts and in Congress, including Adhikaar, the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT), AND the National TPS Alliance.
Jenny Zhao, staff attorney at Advancing Justice - Asian Law Caucus, said: "The Trump Administration's plan to end TPS for Honduras and Nepal must be stopped before it causes immeasurable harm to TPS holders, their families, and their communities."
Minju Cho, staff attorney at Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Los Angeles said: "TPS holders are valued members of our communities. They are parents to tens and thousands of U.S. citizen children. TPS is vital to people's ability to work and provide for themselves and their families. We are proud to stand alongside these communities in their fight against the Trump administration's unconstitutional attempt to take TPS away."
Ahilan Arulanantham, senior counsel at the ACLU Foundation of Southern California, said: "We are proud to represent these courageous U.S. citizen children and their parents who held Temporary Protected Status before the Trump Administration unlawfully stripped it away. They ask only that our government respect their due process rights. We hope the Court will uphold the rule of law and grant them the protection they deserve."
Read the complaint at https://www.aclusocal.org/sites/default/files/tps-nepal-honduras.pdf.