Since coming into office, and even before, the president has made his opinions about the proper way forward for U.S. immigration policy quite clear. He promised on multiple occasions to deport every single undocumented immigrant living in the United States while concurrently putting a wall up along the border between the U.S. and Mexico.
He’s so far been unable to fulfill either one of those promises, but that does not mean that he hasn’t attempted to undercut the U.S. legal immigration system anyway.
One of the means his administration employed to that end was the recent cancellation of the Temporary Protected Status of 59,000 Haitians, a status that allowed them to live and work in the United States in light of the disaster-driven instability in their own country.
If Trump administration officials thought that it was going to be easy to get away with that move, they were wrong. The Department of Homeland Security is now facing a lawsuit from the NAACP, whose officials claim that the DHS made their decision about the Haitians’ immigration status because of racial bias. Named in the lawsuit are both former Acting DHS Secretary Elaine Duke and current DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.
As president & director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc., Sherrilyn Ifill put it:
‘This is a simple case. Our democracy rests on the bedrock principle that every person is equal before the law. Governmental decisions that target people based on racial discrimination violate our Constitution.’
President and CEO of the NAACP itself Derrick Johnson commented similarly, saying:
‘The U.S. Constitution prohibits singling out certain immigrants for harsh treatment based on their skin color and/or ethnicity. But more than that, basic fairness militates against this draconian action taken by DHS under the direction of President Trump.’
The NAACP’s position is bolstered by recent reports about the president having used racist obscenities in reference to Haiti — along with other nations — calling the place a “shithole country” during an immigration policy debate at the White House.
The dismal end to that debate helped push the federal government towards its recent three day shutdown, with a stalemate enveloping the Senate over how to appropriately deal with the Trump administration’s plans to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program.
That program is meant to protect hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants brought here as young children from being deported. Democrats want continued protections for these people while Republicans are not on board with any such thing.
Ironically, at least one Trump ally expressed open support for the idea of Haiti being a “shithole country” whether or not the president actually uttered the phrase.
Florida GOP Congressman Matt Gaetz told MSNBC’s Chris Hayes:
‘I would not pick those terms but I would say that the conditions in Haiti are deplorable, they are disgusting. I mean, everywhere you look in Haiti, it’s sheet metal and garbage.’
In addition to the reported racist obscenity, the NAACP cited racism-motivated efforts on the part of DHS to uncover data about both the crime rates among Haitian immigrant communities and the rate of welfare usage.
For now, this lawsuit is continuing to proceed while the president occupies himself with obsessing over the largely non-existent threat to the U.S. posed by immigrants instead of taking care of their immediate needs and moving on. Such has remained a foundation of his platform since essentially his rise to prominence.
Featured Image via Kevin Dietsch/ Pool via Bloomberg