Immigrant-rights activists said Wednesday they’ve now sued to stop the Trump administration from canceling special protections for 57,000 Hondurans in the U.S. who would otherwise be illegal immigrants, adding them into an already ongoing lawsuit over some 260,000 others from El Salvador and Haiti.
The lawsuit is the latest test for the Trump administration over Temporary Protected Status, the humanitarian parole past administrations have doled out to protect people stuck in the U.S. while their home countries recover from major natural disasters, wars and epidemics.
Some 260,000 people from El Salvador, here since a 2001 earthquake, and 57,000 Hondurans, here since 1999 after Hurricane Mitch, are covered by TPS. but Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen has said their countries have finally recovered and under the law, it’s time to go home.
Former acting Secretary Elaine Duke also revoked status for nearly 59,000 Haitians last year.
“Termination of TPS for El Salvador, Haiti, and Honduras would wreak havoc on the lives of hundreds of thousands of people,” the lawsuit says, adding that the migrants themselves are contributing to American society, too.
The lawsuit also accuses the Trump administration of being fueled by “invidious discrimination.”
One major piece of evidence they offer for that is President Trump’s reported comment during negotiations on immigration legislation that Haiti and Central American nations were “s—hole” countries.
Yet the descriptions the plaintiffs paint of their home countries in the lawsuit is indeed grim. They cite “extreme gang violence,” “gender-based violence,” a “devastating cholera epidemic” that’s ravaged Haiti, and economic and political instability in Honduras, which is “regularly listed as one of the world’s most dangerous nations,” as reasons people shouldn’t be asked to go back home.
The U.S. currently does deport illegal immigrants to each of those countries, however, suggesting an official policy that those nations are safe enough.
What’s not clear is whether they could handle such a massive one-time influx of people.
The Washington Post reported Tuesday that State Department officials had warned the countries would be overwhelmed by so many people returning home — and by the loss of income from their work in the U.S. Nearly 30 percent of Haiti’s economy is made up of “remittances” of money from Haitians working abroad, and the U.S. is the largest share of that.
Nearly 20 percent of the economies of El Salvador and Honduras are remittances.