Caribbean American Democratic Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke says she is “deeply saddened and dismayed” by a US Appeals Court ruling that allows the Trump administration to proceed with plans to terminate Temporary Protective Status (TPS).
An estimated 300,000 undocumented immigrants from Haiti, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Sudan are beneficiaries of the TPS.
“I am deeply saddened and dismayed by the disappointing decision from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday opening the door to stripping temporary protected status for undocumented immigrants from Haiti, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Sudan,” Clarke, the daughter of Jamaican immigrants, told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC).
“Rather than returning our immigration system to more certain legal footing, this decision will only work to undermine the fundamental principles of our nation of immigrants,” said Clarke, who represents the predominantly Caribbean 9th Congressional District in Brooklyn, New York.
“By overturning a 2018 decision to the contrary, the 9th Circuit has empowered the White House to follow through on their stated mission of eliminating legal immigration as it exists today
“From the very beginning of his tenure, Trump has used every avenue available to him to limit immigration into the United States – including revoking legal status from as many residents as possible,” said Clarke, who has been in the vanguard of protecting TPS for Haitians.
“In the pursuit of a second term, he has willingly and haphazardly taken direct aim at every part of our immigration framework in the hopes of riling up his electoral base. We cannot stand idly by and continue to allow this administration to act so callously towards so many of the people that have worked tirelessly to accommodate our needs during the pandemic and beyond.”
Clarke, vice chair of the US House of Representatives’ Energy and Commerce Committee and member of the Homeland Security Committee, said that, if nothing else, “this administration has made clear that the time when we could rely on the executive branch to uphold our traditions has long since passed.”
Coupled with a judiciary largely “remade in the image of this administration, increasingly rejecting a path towards racial and national unity in favour of continued division, the path forward becomes clear,” said Clarke, who is also and chair of the US Congressional Black Caucus Immigration Task Force.
She, therefore, urged the US Congress to take “unequivocal action.
“Instead of depending on the other branches of government to protect immigrants throughout the country, we must act now to ensure all Americans have the opportunity to enjoy the bounty of this great nation,” Clarke said.
On Monday, a divided, three-judge panel ruled that it could not second guess Trump’s efforts to end TPS for the undocumented immigrants from Haiti, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Sudan.
Two Republican-appointed judges on the panel ruled that decisions by the US Department of Homeland Security to terminate the TPS programmes were not reviewable, setting aside a lower court ruling that had averted the Trump administration from ending these protections.
In its 2-1 ruling, the Court also dismissed the argument that the decision to end the TPS programmes violated the equal protection clause of the US Constitution because of Trump’s disparaging remarks about immigrants from non-European, predominantly non-white countries.
“While we do not condone the offensive and disparaging nature of the President’s remarks, we find it instructive that these statements occurred primarily in contexts removed from and unrelated to TPS policy or decisions,” wrote US Circuit Judge Consuelo Callahan, a former President George W. Bush appointee, in the majority’s opinion.
But US Circuit Judge Morgan Christen, a President Barack Obama appointee, said in her dissent that the TPS terminations were reviewable and that they violated federal administrative law.
Judge Christen also underscored the “monumental” consequences of the majority’s decision, describing it as “deeply flawed.”
“The importance of the interests at stake make the argument in favor of reviewability even more compelling, because the lives of 300,000 non-citizens and 200,000 US citizen children will be forever changed by these TPS terminations,” she wrote.
Several TPS beneficiaries from the four countries and their children had filed a lawsuit challenging the TPS terminations, both for procedural reasons and on the grounds that the rule was motivated by animus towards “non-white, non-European immigrants”.
They said that this animus was reflected by comments made by Trump and other administration officials.
The plaintiffs and their lawyers said that they are preparing to appeal the appeals court’s ruling.