Citing his history of racist remarks, a group of Liberian immigrants and families who are now in limbo following Donald Trump’s termination of their protections is suing. “Without legal action,” tweeted Jonathan Jayes-Green of immigrant advocacy group UndocuBlack Network, “thousands of Liberians who have been in the US for decades will lose status and be vulnerable to deportation.”
Despite the fact that some Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) immigrants have lived here for as long as two decades, the Trump administration announced last year that their protections would end on March 31. Families, many with U.S. citizen kids, will now be forced to separate, deport together to unstable conditions, or become undocumented and go underground.
The administration had claimed in ending DED that "conditions in Liberia have improved,” but as attorneys from the lawsuit state, the administration’s decision was actually “the direct result of intentional discrimination directed at the Liberian community.” In one infamous, racist rant last year, Trump insulted countries affected by his anti-immigrant actions as “shithole countries.”
This isn’t the first or even second time that Trump’s racist remarks have made it into a lawsuit over the termination of immigration protections. Also citing his slurs, Temporary Protected Status (TPS) recipients from six nations sued over termination of their protections. As a result of that legal action, immigrants from El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Sudan are protected through 2020. TPS recipients from Honduras and Nepal have just launched their lawsuit.
“This is the latest discriminatory attack from the Trump Administration on longstanding immigration programs,” said Iván Espinoza-Madrigal of Lawyers for Civil Rights, which, with Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, sued on behalf of UndocuBlack, African Communities Together, and 15 protected individuals. Ultimately, these families, along with TPS and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients, must be protected through permanent legislation. But this legal action could provide urgently needed relief until then.
“First, they came for DACA recipients brought to this country as children,” Espinoza-Madrigal continued. “Then, they came for immigrants of color protected under TPS. Now, they come for Liberians. We will not stand idly by as immigrants of color are threatened with detention and deportation.”