The NAACP is suing the Department of Homeland Security over its decision to remove temporary protected status for Haitian immigrants and accusing the Trump administration of working to further President Trump’s “wishes to reduce the number of immigrants of color in the United States.”
The organization filed its lawsuit in federal court Wednesday, which claims the Trump administration discriminated against Haitian immigrants because of their race and ethnicity. The NAACP argues Homeland Security’s decision to end temporary protected status for Haitians living in the U.S. is a violation of their equal protection and due process rights under the Fifth Amendment.
“[T]he evidence of the administration’s overt bias against immigrants of color, and Haitians in particular, strongly supports an inference that DHS’s decision was motivated by racial discrimination,” the lawsuit states.
The NAACP argues the Department of Homeland Security’s decision to rescind temporary protected status for Haitian immigrants is an “egregious departure from” the statute’s requirements and indicates the Trump administration intended to “discriminate on the basis of race and/or ethnicity.”
The lawsuit refers to the president’s comments during an Oval Office meeting with several senators earlier this month, during which Trump referred to Haiti, El Salvador, and African nations as “shithole countries” and asked, “Why do we need more Haitians?”
Trump has denied making the comments, but did admit to using “tough” language during the gathering.
Senators who were in the Oval Office have offered conflicting recollections of the meeting. Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said the president did use such language, while Sens. David Perdue, R-Ga., and Tom Cotton, R-Ark., denied reports accusing Trump of using vulgar terms to describe other countries.
“This is a simple case,” Sherrilyn Ifill, president of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, said in a statement. “Our democracy rests on the bedrock principle that every person is equal before the law. Governmental decisions that target people based on racial discrimination violate our Constitution.”
Then-Acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke announced in November her decision to rescind temporary protected status for roughly 58,000 Haitians working in the U.S., effective July 2019.
The agency gave Haitians working in the U.S. 18 months to leave the country.