The NAACP filed a lawsuit on Wednesday that asked a federal court to void the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s decision to end Temporary Protection Status for nearly 60,000 Haitian immigrants, the Miami Herald reported. That decision was based on false racial stereotypes and the president’s personal racist attitude toward Black immigrants, the suit alleged.
“The decision by the Department of Homeland Security to rescind TPS status for Haitian immigrants was infected by racial discrimination,” said Sherrilyn Ifill, who heads the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. She added that the department’s decision-making process “was driven by calculated, determined and intentional discrimination against Haitian immigrants.”
TPS gave temporary legal status to Haitian immigrants who fled the aftermath of the devastating January 2010 earthquake. In November, DHS announced the termination of TPS for those immigrants, citing significant progress toward rebuilding homes and infrastructure on Haiti since the disaster. The department gave them a deadline of July 22, 2019 to get their affairs in order and return to Haiti.
The lawsuit, which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, accused the government of denying the immigrants their right to due process and equal protection under the Firth Amendment, adding that racism was the primary motive for terminating TPS. DHS searched for evidence in early 2017 to prove that the immigrants are criminals and receive public assistance. “Those efforts were grounded in longstanding and particularly noxious anti-Black stereotypes,” the lawsuit stated. The immigrants are, in fact, hardworking people. About 81 percent of them are part of the labor force and earn a median household income of $45,000. Roughly 6,200 are part of households with a mortgage. And more than 70 percent of them completed at least a high school education, the suit noted.
President Donald Trump’s racist attitude is driving the policy. The lawsuit pointed to the president’s own words to make that case. He reportedly said Haitian immigrants “all have AIDS” and Nigerian visitors to the United States will not want to return to their “huts” in Africa. That statement came after learning that 15,000 Haitians and 40,000 Nigerians had received visas to the United States. The president’s disparagement of Haitians and Africans continued weeks later when he called them “shi-thole countries.”