Category 5 Hurricane Maria left 1,700 Puerto Rican children, elderly, those with disabilities, and the seriously ill stranded or homeless. These American citizens had been receiving assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) program to live in cities across the country after being displaced from their homes. Then, the heavy fist of the Donald Trump administration pounded them even harder.
FEMA had provided them with temporary housing assistance, because these Americans had no home left on their island. Before there were any homes to return to, Trump had his people evict them and was intent upon sending them back to their destroyed island to fend for themselves. At this time, 5,000 Puerto Ricans still do not have electricity.
Fortunately, two federal judges had a heart. U.S. District Judge Timothy Hillman halted the evictions and extended the program until July 23. Then, the evacuees will have a formal hearing.
He said that he would issue an order about the status of the FEMA program by July 23. In his ruling, he said that he might also schedule a formal hearing sometime near the end of summer, NBC reported.
U.S. District Judge Leo Sorokin of Massachusetts blocked Trump’s FEMA from stopping its assistance on June 30, which was the original end date.
The LatinoJustice (PRLDEF) advocacy group filed a lawsuit on behalf of these American citizens, stating that June 30 had been an arbitrary end date. It also claimed that FEMA’s response to the hurricane had been completely inadequate.
Trump has been persecuting people of Latin heritage, both Puerto Ricans and the undocumented seeking asylum at the U.S. border with Mexico. POTUS threw paper towels at the Puerto Ricans during an appearance there, who had no water. Then, he told them how lucky there were that only 16 people had died.
Hurricane Maria was the worst national disaster in the nation’s history. In fact, nearly 4,600 Puerto Ricans died from the storm and its aftermath. The president’s lack of management and interest caused many of those deaths. His administration has claimed only 64 people died.
Associate counsel at LatinoJustice PRLDEF, Natasha Lycia Ora Bannan, released a statement that read:
‘It’s inconceivable that disaster victims have to continue to bring FEMA to court to force them to uphold their mandate and not discontinue the most basic aid to entire communities that have suffered through unimaginable disasters.’
Chief of staff advocacy for the organization Faith in Action, Denise Collazo, said:
‘This will give families who are in the process of reestablishing their lives — kids in school, parents who have started work — the opportunity to establish a long-term residence, and for those in need of regular medical attention the opportunity to not have their treatment interrupted. We do have the power to help people in this kind of situation — we just have to choose to do it.’
President Barack Obama appointed both Judges Hillman and Sorokin to the federal bench.
Featured Image via Getty Images/Richard Arduengo.