The largest and oldest civil rights organization in the United States has filed a racial discrimination lawsuit against the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS), DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, and the former acting head of the agency, Elaine C. Duke, over the Trump administration’s decision to rescind Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haitian immigrants.
Lawsuit filed in Maryland Court
The lawsuit, which the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund filed in the US District Court in Maryland on Wednesday, argues that the agency and its leaders’ move “discriminates against immigrants of color.”
The suit seeks the court to void the decision and reinstate the status for thousands of Haitians.
Irrational and discriminatory action
It’s reported that the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, which is a separate organization from the NAACP, is representing the NAACP and its Haitian members and says DHS “irrational and discriminatory government action, is denying Haitian immigrants their right to due process and equal protection under the Fifth Amendment.”
“Governmental decisions that target people based on racial discrimination violate our Constitution,” said Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund in a statement. “The decision by the Department of Homeland Security to rescind TPS status for Haitian immigrants was infected by racial discrimination. Every step taken by the department to reach this decision reveals that far from a rational and fact-based determination, this decision was driven by calculated, determined and intentional discrimination against Haitian immigrants,” she added.
Trump’s derogatory comments
Reference in the lawsuit is President Trump’s alleged derogatory comments about Haitians and about limiting immigrants from the French-speaking Caribbean nation to increase immigration from European countries.
“On January 11, 2018, during a meeting on immigration with several U.S. Senators, Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson, White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly, and Defendant Nielsen, the President asked, ‘Why do we need more Haitians?’ and directed that Haitian immigrants should not be admitted through any proposed immigration plan.
“In stark contrast, the President stated that immigrants from countries ‘like Norway’ were more desirable and should be admitted,” the complaint adds. “As Senator Richard Durbin pointed out during the meeting, President Trump’s singling out of Haitians for exclusion was ‘an obvious racial decision.’”
The complaint also points to reports that the president said all Haitians “have AIDS” and argues that Trump’s “racial bias against Haitian immigrants recalls America’s long, ignominious history of discrimination against Haiti, the world’s first Black republic.”
TPS covers hundreds of thousands of people who are living in the United States and who are temporarily unable to return to their countries of origin because of safety or other concerns, PBS noted, adding that Haitians gained the status days after a 7.0-magnitude earthquake devastated the country in January 2010.