FILE PHOTO ATTORNEY GENERAL

Virginia Attorney General Mark R. Herring today joined an 18-state coalition in filing an Amicus Brief in Ramos v. Nielsen, supporting efforts to prevent the potential deportation of thousands of Virginia residents and hundreds of thousands of people nationwide who hold Temporary Protected Status (TPS). The lawsuit is seeking a preliminary injunction blocking a new rule issued by the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for purposes of determining whether to extend a country’s TPS designation.

The lawsuit alleges that the resulting termination of TPS status for natives of El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Sudan violate the due process rights of TPS holders and their children, and are discriminatory actions driven by President Trump’s views about TPS holders from Latin America and Africa. Virginia alone is home to more than 20,000 El Salvadorans who were granted TPS after a series of earthquakes in 2001 caused widespread damage in their country.

“These people came to Virginia because they were escaping dangers in their home countries and they have become invaluable members of our communities,” said Herring. “Our country was based on the principles of providing refuge and solace to those who seek it but the Trump Administration continues to undermine this with their immigration policies. I will fight for TPS holders and work to stop them from being unfairly or unjustly deported.”

TPS protects individuals who are in the United States and whose home countries face armed conflict, natural disasters, political prosecution or other crises that make the return of TPS holders to their home countries unsafe. Many TPS holders have lived here for a decade or more and have started families and businesses, bought homes, and significantly contributed to their communities.

Under the Trump Administration, DHS changed its long-standing practice of looking at the entirety of the conditions in a country when determining whether it is safe for TPS holders to return.

According to the lawsuit, without any substantial explanation, DHS now argues that it can only look narrowly at the original condition in the home country that prompted its TPS designation when deciding whether to extend that designation. Such a practice would ignore other conditions that pose serious threats to the safety of TPS holders. The plaintiffs in this case allege that DHS enacted its new rule without following legal requirements.

The amicus brief argues that DHS’s new rule is contrary to the public interest and that it will harm the people of Virginia in a number of ways, including its impact on:

  • Family members, including hundreds of thousands of U.S. citizen children, who will suffer trauma and hardship from unnecessary and forced separation;
  • The economy and the workforce, which are enriched by the employment, entrepreneurship and contributions of TPS holders;
  • Public revenues, which are enhanced by the taxes contributed by TPS holders, including an estimated $100 million alone in property taxes collected annually from Salvadoran homeowners with TPS;
  • Healthcare delivery, which will suffer from disruptions in care provided by TPS holders who work at child care facilities, nursing homes, and hospitals;
  • Public health, which will be hindered by the loss of employer-sponsored insurance for TPS holders and their families; and
  • Public safety, which will be damaged by making TPS holders less likely to report crime.

Herring joined today’s brief along with Attorneys General from California, the District of Columbia Massachusetts, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawai'i, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington.

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