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NAACP vs. Trump: Racial Discrimination Suit Filed to Block Deportations of Haitians with TPS

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The NAACP and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund have sued the Department of Homeland Security over its decision to rescind the temporary protected status (TPS) designation for Haitian immigrants. We speak to Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.

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This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: Finally, Sherrilyn Ifill, on another issue, TPS, you’re suing the government. The president’s famous “s—hole” comments, you know, people from “s—hole countries,” like Africa—well, which, of course, is a continent—and Haiti. Talk about your challenge to the Trump administration around removing the temporary protective status for Haitian refugees.

SHERRILYN IFILL: Yeah, so temporary protected status is permitted under the Immigration and Nationality Act and falls under the Department of Homeland Security when there has been some incident that has produced conditions in a country that makes it impossible for the country to really receive back their nationals. The TPS status was granted to Haiti after the earthquake, the devastating earthquake, that we all remember. And it has been renewed several times since then. You’ll recall, after the earthquake, there was a cholera outbreak in Haiti. Then Haiti suffered from the hurricane. And so the conditions have simply not transformed enough, despite the fact that Haiti has been working diligently to try and bring itself back, not sufficient enough to receive back the over 50,000 residents here in the United States who have TPS status.

But it was very clear that the Trump administration was set on rescinding TPS status for Haitians, not based, as it’s supposed to be, by statute, on the conditions in the country, but based on the fact that this administration does not deem Haitians to be worthy of staying in the United States. I really want to point out that we were working on this case before the “s—hole” comments. That is part of it, without question. That certainly—and you’ll see it in our complaint—reveals the intentions of this administration. But there are other actions that the Department of Homeland Security was engaged in that demonstrated that they were planning to target this Haitian population, not based on the conditions in the country, as the statute allows, but based on their view about Haitians. For example, very few people know that the Department of Homeland Security was furiously seeking information about Haitians involved in criminal activity, and furiously seeking information about the number of Haitians in the United States seeking public benefits. They were trying to create a narrative about Haitians to justify to the public—not under the statute, but to the public, as a public relations matter—why Haitians should be removed from the country and should no longer have temporary protected status.

So we filed suit in that case. Our client is the national NAACP and on behalf of their members who are Haitian nationals and who have TPS status. And we will see how this case goes forward. The case is a claim of race discrimination. We claim, essentially, that the administration has engaged in racial discrimination in denying and rescinding this TPS status in violation of the Constitution. The Constitution protects all of us from government actions based on race discrimination, whether we are citizens or noncitizens.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, I want to thank you so much for being with us, Sherrilyn Ifill—

SHERRILYN IFILL: Thank you.

AMY GOODMAN: —president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. Stay with us.

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