January 2018 rally in New York City, protesting President Donald Trump’s immigration policies. Photo Credit: Garry Pierre-Pierre
January 2018 rally in New York City, protesting President Donald Trump’s immigration policies. Photo Credit: Garry Pierre-Pierre

Federal trial begins Monday to protect more than 50,000 immigrants and their families from being forcibly separated by deportation. Haitian immigrants and allies to rally at the opening of  the federal trial to halt possible deportations

By Naeisha Rose

The fight to protect Haitians immigrants under Temporary Protected Status (TPS) in the United States is going full steam ahead and has resulted in a lawsuit and rally, which will be held on Monday at the Eastern District of New York Federal Courthouse in downtown Brooklyn.

The demonstration on Jan. 7 will be at 9 a.m. Opening motions for the court case to keep approximately 50,000 people from the Caribbean island from being deported is scheduled at 9:30 a.m., according to a press release for representatives of the plaintiffs who are suing President Donald Trump for his decision to end TPS.

“The trial is expected to last four days,” said Steven Forester, the immigration policy coordinator for the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti. “The lawsuit alleges that the Trump administration violated the Constitution and U.S. statutes in terminating TPS.”

The motivation for ending TPS for Haitians is rooted in anti-immigration ideology and the Trump administration’s bias towards Caribbean, African and Hispanics/Latinos, according to Forester.

According to Forester, Haiti was and remains a textbook candidate for TPS, a legal designation that allows immigrants to work and live in the United States because of natural disasters or ongoing armed conflict in taking place in their home country.

In 2010, a 7.0 magnitude earthquake decimated the island and resulted in the death of 250,000 Haitians, according to Forester. Shortly afterwards, there was a cholera epidemic  brought to the island from Nepalese United Nations peacekeeping soldiers. While still recovering from the earthquake and cholera epidemic, the small island nation was hit by Hurricane Matthew in 2016, which left 3.2 million people in need of humanitarian assistance, according to UNICEF.

“The earthquake, the cholera outbreak and Hurricane Matthew, anyone of which merited an extension of TPS and that is a complete no-brainer,” said Forester. “Trump said that he prefers people from Norway.”

The Saget et al v. Trump case is the first trial to challenge the government’s unlawful termination of TPS, according to a press release. Experts on the conditions in Haiti, and former Department of Homeland Security officials are scheduled to testify at the trial about why these immigrants should not be deported to Haiti and about documented racial attitudes within the agency.

Relief groups and politicians across the aisle have agreed that Haitians under TPS in the U.S. should not be forced back to Haiti after July 22, 2019, which is the end of TPS for those immigrants, said Forester.

In a meeting about TPS on Jan. 11, 2018, Trump said that Africans and Haitians are from “shithole countries,” and further added, “why do we need more Haitians.”

The suit against Trump was brought on by a dozen plaintiffs, including Patrick Saget of Haïti Liberté, a Haitian newspaper, the Family Action Network Movement Inc., an immigration coalition that works to empower Haitian women and their families in south Florida, according to National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild (NIPNLG).

Lawyers from NIPNLG with the law firms of Kurzban, Kurzban, Weinger, Tetzeli and Pratt P.A, (Kurzban) and Mayer Brown came into the defense of the TPS holders because the rhetoric against Haitian immigrants were too explicit and ugly to ignore.

“It motivated us to step in,” said Paromita Shah, an associate director of NIPNLG.

Shah also considered other actions toward Haitians to be a witch-hunt against the immigrant group.

“They were claiming that Haitians came with AIDS, that the immigrants had criminal records or saying they were using public benefits as reasons to terminate TPS,” said Shah. “Terminating temporary protected status should only really have to do with the conditions in Haiti…they were hunting for reasons to cut it short.”

The location of the trial is 225 Cadman Plaza E.

Naeisha Rose is a multimedia journalist and graduate of the Arts & Culture and Broadcast programs at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. She has experience working on independent short films, short documentaries, reality television shows, talk and web series as a Casting Associate, 1st AD and Production Assistant. She is a freelance writer with photography, voice over, social media, video production and video editing skills. She has worked as a General Assignment Reporter/Photojournalist for TimesLedger Newspapers, a Book Reviewer for Publishers Weekly and a Freelance Writer for LatinTrends Magazine.

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