California Judge Shields Trump’s Latest Immigration Targets, For Now

The ruling blocks Trump administration efforts to end Temporary Protected Status for hundreds of thousands of immigrants until the Supreme Court weighs in.

Once again, a federal judge has blocked a Trump administration effort to crack down on immigration — a reprieve that could ultimately be temporary as well.

U.S. District Judge Edward Chen on Wednesday evening granted a preliminary injunction to pause the Trump administration’s plans to end Temporary Protected Status (TPS) protections for people from four countries, allowing them to live and work in the United States. But the Supreme Court could ultimately permit the federal government to end the program, as it did in June for the travel ban that applied to Muslim-majority countries.

Bay Area-born Crista Ramos, 14, is a lead plaintiff of the lawsuit working its way through the courts, arguing that forcing her mother Christina Morales to return to El Salvador 20 years after she left would place undue hardship on her.

“I don’t want my mom to go back to El Salvador, a country that is not her home,” Ramos said at a rally in June. “My younger brother and I also depend on TPS to stay united as a family.”

TPS applies to people from 10 countries impacted by natural disaster or war who come by a certain date to live and work in the United States until conditions improve. The ruling from the Northern California district circuit is a relief to those from Sudan, Nicaragua, Haiti, El Salvador but leaves out Nepal and Honduras, most of which are set to leave the program in 2019. 

This means more than 400,000 people must prepare to leave the country, potentially leaving behind family members, or remain without the proper documentation and fear deportation by ICE.  Ramos is one of an estimated 273,000 U.S. citizens who have parents with TPS status and California alone has 55,000 Salvadorans with the protections, according to the Center for Migration Studies.

With an ugly confirmation process revealing the partisanship of the Supreme Court, the Trump administration can rely on the conservative majority to rule in its favor. But politicians have introduced five TPS-related bills to Congress and the program’s supporters are urging people to persuade their elected representatives to push it through.

Fredy Ochoa, a TPS holder who lives in San Francisco, attended the hearings and welcomed the ruling. He feels the judge was influenced not only by the strong legal case of people like him, but President Donald Trump’s displays of racism.

“The lawsuit is not over but we are very optimistic,” Ochoa tells SF Weekly. “Our lawyers showed the government changed how it reviews TPS for countries.”

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