A US Border Patrol agent apprehends a man from Honduras for illegally crossing into the US from Mexico in Mission, Texas, on October 2 2018. Picture: REUTERS/ADREES LATIF
A US Border Patrol agent apprehends a man from Honduras for illegally crossing into the US from Mexico in Mission, Texas, on October 2 2018. Picture: REUTERS/ADREES LATIF

San Francisco — A federal judge in San Francisco blocked the Trump administration from overturning portions of a George HW Bush-era humanitarian policy that offers US residency to nationals from countries facing perilous conditions.

The decision temporarily protects about 300,000 people from El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Sudan from mass deportations at the hands of Trump’s department of homeland security.

More broadly, US District Judge Edward Chen’s preliminary injunction halts the administration from stripping those four nations of their temporary protected status, which recognises that they are dangerous places to live due do natural disasters, drug epidemics or armed conflict.

The justice department argued that Trump’s “America First” agenda shaped the decision to end the temporary protected status policy.

Plaintiffs argued that was simply code for the government’s efforts to block nonwhites from immigrating to the US, a violation of the US constitution’s equal protection clause.

“A motivating factor in these decisions is the racial animus of the president,” said Ahilan Arulanantham, an ACLU attorney arguing for plaintiffs.

“We don’t have code in this case. We have blatant, rank discrimination from the most powerful person in the government.”

Chen sided with those residents on the cusp of deportation.

“Plaintiffs have provided sufficient evidence to raise serious questions as to whether a discriminatory purpose was a motivating factor in the decisions to terminate the temporary protected status designations,” Chen wrote in his temporary order.

Justice department spokesperson Devin O’Malley said: “The court’s decision usurps the role of the executive branch in our constitutional order. The Justice Department completely rejects the notion that the White House or the department of homeland security did anything improper. We will continue to fight for the integrity of our immigration laws and our national security.”

At a hearing last month, Chen asked justice department lawyers whether Trump’s “America First” slogan was being used by the president’s lieutenants to camouflage discriminatory immigration policies.

Bloomberg

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