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Immigrants sue US over end to temporary protected status

AP  |  San Francisco 

The Trump administration's decision to end a programme that lets immigrants from four countries live and work legally in the US was motivated by racism and leaves the immigrants' American born children with an "impossible choice," according to a federal lawsuit filed.

Nine immigrants and five children yesterday filed the suit in federal court in to reinstate temporary protected status for people from El Salvador, Haiti, and

The status is granted to countries ravaged by natural disasters or war. It lets citizens of those countries remain in the US until the situation improves back home.

The lawsuit -- at least the third challenging the administration's decision to end temporary protected status -- cites Donald Trump's vulgar language during a meeting in January to describe African countries.

"They did it because of xenophobia, and we need to make sure that we say it loudly so that everyone knows," said Martha Arevalo, executive director of the group,

Arevalo spoke at a rally to announce the lawsuit outside the federal courthouse in that was attended by some of the plaintiffs and dozens of demonstrators, some carrying signs that read, "Let Our People Stay."

One of the plaintiffs, Cristina Morales, said she came to the US in 1993 at the age of 12 after fleeing to escape domestic violence. She received temporary protected status in 2001 and now works as an in the Bay Area.

She was accompanied at the rally by her 14-year-old daughter, Crista Ramos, who along with her 11-year-old son, Diego Ramos, are US citizens.

"I don't want the government to split my family and to lose my home, my friends and the opportunity for a good education," Crista said.

Morales, 37, her voice quivering with emotion, said she has nothing to go back to in

"If I pay taxes, health insurance, my house and the education of my children, what I have done wrong," she said.

The lawsuit names the as a defendant. The department declined to comment on pending litigation.

More than 200,000 immigrants could face deportation because of the change in policy, and they have more than 200,000 American children who risk being uprooted from their communities and schools, according to plaintiffs in the case filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of and other immigrant advocates.

The children face the "impossible choice" of leaving their country with their parents or staying without them, according to the suit.

"These American children should not have to choose between their country and their family," Ahilan Arulanantham, of the of Southern California, said in a statement.

It's the latest lawsuit filed against the over its crackdown on immigration. A case filed last month by Haitian and Salvadoran immigrants in also alleges the decision to end temporary protected status was racially motivated. The NAACP has filed a separate lawsuit in on behalf of Haitian immigrants who received temporary protected status.

The programme was created for humanitarian reasons, and the status can be renewed by the following an evaluation.

was designated for the programme in 2001 after an earthquake and the country's status was repeatedly renewed. The announced in January that the program would expire for El Salvador in September 2019.

concluded that El Salvador had received significant international aid to recover from the earthquake, and homes, schools and hospitals there had been rebuilt.

The has ended the program for the other three countries as well.

The lawsuit in alleges that the US narrowed its criteria for determining whether countries qualified for temporary protected status and is violating the constitutional rights of people with temporary protected status and their US citizen children.

The lawsuit seeks a court order to reinstate temporary protected status for people from the four countries, but it also proposes an alternative that would protect recipients with school-aged US citizen children for as long as the children remain between five and 18 years old.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Tue, March 13 2018. 08:10 IST