Editorial Note: This article was originally printed on WNYC.com

In the spring of 2017, a high level Trump administration official asked for details on how many Haitians with Temporary Protected Status were on public benefits, how many were convicted of “crimes of any kind,” and how many had been in the country unlawfully before being granted TPS.

When told by staffers that this information wasn’t relevant to granting TPS and that the existing data “wasn’t good,” she continued to press ahead. She explained that the Homeland Security Secretary “is going to need this to make a final decision” that spring on whether to extend TPS for Haitians. They were granted the right to stay in the U.S. after a devastating 2010 earthquake.

To critics of that decision, these emails, obtained through the Freedom of Information Act by the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild, reveal an administration intent on seeking negative information to doom the renewal of TPS for nearly 60,000 Haitians.

“Keep in mind that this is in no way relevant to deciding whether to extend or terminate TPS designation to a country under the statute,” said Sejal Zota, legal director of the National Immigration Project, which requested the emails with the NYU Immigrant Rights Clinic. “It really suggests that they were attempting to manufacture a basis to deny TPS. That they went on this fishing expedition to paint all Haitians as criminals and as unauthorized immigrants.”

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