Immigrant families celebrate ruling blocking Trump admin from ending protections

LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 17: Ariely Murrilo (R), a U.S. citizen, stands near her mother Mily Rivas (2nd L), a TPS recipient from El Salvador, at the launch of the 'TPS Journey for Justice Caravan' outside City Hall on August 17, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. Mily faces deportation with the termination of the TPS program for Salvadorans. The caravan protests the Trump administration's termination of Temporary Protected Status- a federal program which protects 450,000 immigrants from certain countries from deportation. The caravan will travel from Los Angeles to Washington, DC with more than 50 current Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

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Hundreds of thousands of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) recipients and their U.S. citizen children are celebrating a ruling from a federal judge this week temporarily halting the Trump administration’s termination of their protections. In the face of congressional inaction, the court’s decision could be the difference between continuing their lives here, or deportation.

“This is going to give us hope to continue in the fight for something better,” said Fredy Ochoa, one of the estimated 200,000 Salvadoran beneficiaries in the U.S. “It is a huge relief.” Despite some Salvadoran beneficiaries living here for as long as two decades, the Trump administration has ordered them to adjust their status—this is unrealistic for most—or leave by September 2019. Others face being deported even sooner.

Nurse Rony Ponthieux “said he believes he and others like him deserve to stay in the country because they work hard, pay taxes and contribute to communities just like permanent residents and Americans.” The administration has also ordered Ponthieux and 50,000 other Haitians to adjust their status or leave by next July. “I knew something was going to happen,” he said about the judge’s ruling. “I believed in God.”

In his “extraordinary” ruling—“it is the first time in the history of the TPS statute … that there has been a court-ordered halt for any TPS termination,” said advocate Emi MacLean—U.S. District Judge Edward Chen found the administration lacked “any explanation or justification” for terminating TPS, adding “there were ‘serious questions as to whether a discriminatory purpose was a motivating factor’ in the administration’s decision.” Does “shithole countries” ring a bell for anyone?

But while his ruling is important relief, they need permanent relief, and only Congress can do that. It should be a no-brainer: these immigrants have already been vetted, they contribute to their communities, they have homes, they are part of America’s fabric. So if the current Congress won’t put them onto a path to legalization, let’s get a new one that will. “I’m happy to hear that there is still a possibility that the TPS could be extended,” said Elva Castillo, a Nicaraguan beneficiary. “It gives us TPS holders hope. But it is important that we keep up the fight.”

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