Labor organizations have joined immigrant rights activists in challenging the Trump administration’s decision to revoke temporary protected status (TPS) of immigrants from El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Sudan.
UNITE HERE, the National Day Laborers Organizing Network (NDLON), and the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT) joined a coalition of groups supporting ten TPS holders and five children of TPS holders who on March 12 filed suit in a San Francisco federal court to overturn the Trump administration’s TPS decisions.
One of the plaintiffs is Wilna Destin, a Haitian immigrant and a UNITE HERE organizer in Orlando, Florida.
“For my daughters, America is all they’ve known,” said Destin, explaining why she joined the lawsuit. “Without legal intervention to stop the expiration of Haitian TPS, my daughters will be forced to either lose their mother to Trump or to sacrifice their entire lives and educational opportunities to move to an underdeveloped country that cannot absorb a wave of thousands of deportations. I am afraid of becoming a target by standing up to Donald Trump, but my daughter and I chose to do this to save our family.”
One of Destin’s daughters is also a plaintiff.
TPS, which was authorized by legislation passed in 1990, allows immigrants fleeing from political violence, war, repression, or natural disasters to live and work in the US without fear of deportation.
Since TPS became law, TPS holders have routinely had their status reaffirmed, but that has changed under the Trump regime, which in little more than a year has revoked TPS for 200,000 immigrants and their families.
“With the stroke of a pen, this administration upended the lives of hundreds of thousands of people lawfully residing in the United States for years and sometimes decades,” said Emi MacLean, staff attorney for NDLON and one of the attorneys representing the plaintiffs. “But in terminating TPS in the way that it did, this administration was exercising authority it did not have.”
The lawsuit contends that the decision to revoke TPS was based on the Trump administration’s anti-immigrant, white supremacist agenda.
According to the lawsuit, the decision to revoke TPS “motivated by intentional race- and national-origin-based animus against individuals from what President Trump has referred to as ‘shithole countries’.”
In addition to resting on a foundation of racism and nativism, the lawsuit says that Trump’s revocation of TPS is unconstitutional and violates the Administrative Procedures Act.
Trump’s revocation of TPS is unconstitutional, argues the lawsuit, because it deprives US citizens, this case the children of TPS holders, of their constitutional right to live in the US.
“These American children should not have to choose between their country and their family,” said Ahilan Arulanantham, advocacy and legal director of the ACLU of Southern California, who also represents the plaintiffs.
The lawsuit also says that the Trump administration has violated the Administrative Procedures Act because it arbitrarily and without explanation departed “from existing practice” without any regard for the impact that the revocation will have on peaceful, law-abiding people who contribute to the public good with their hard work and taxes.
In addition to Destin, the other adult plaintiffs are members of the National TPS Alliance, CARECEN-Los Angeles, African Communities Together, which are immigrant rights groups, and IUPAT.
D. Taylor, international president of UNITE HERE explained why the union is supporting this legal action to save TPS.
“This lawsuit is about who UNITE HERE is as a union, and who America is at its core,” Taylor said. “We are proud to be a union made up of many immigrant families and deeply committed to the labor movement as a civil rights vehicle. As Donald Trump and his administration attempt to divide America with his racist policies, it is imperative that labor serve as the moral conscious of this country and challenge the illegal and immoral policies that would destroy working families.”