The NAACP has filed a lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security after President Donald Trump's administration announced that it will stop Haitians from living in the United States under temporary protected status, NBC News reports.
In the lawsuit, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund claims that Trump's administration made the decision based on racism, and that the decision also violated protections outlined in the Fifth Amendment.
“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," NAACP President Derrick Johnson said.
Haitians were originally granted temporary protected status, which allows them to live and work in the U.S. without any fear of deportation, following a 2010 earthquake and cholera outbreak.
The department argues that the "extraordinary but temporary conditions caused by the 2010 earthquake no longer exist." Some counter that by arguing the the island nation has yet to recover from that earthquake or from a more recent, and also deadly, 2016 hurricane.
Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, called the lawsuit a "simple case."
"Our democracy rests on the bedrock principle that every person is equal before the law," Ifill said in a statement. "Governmental decisions that target people based on racial discrimination violate our Constitution."
Ifill argues that the DHS' decision was "infected by racial discrimination."
Trump allegedly referred to Haiti as a "sh*thole," and this too has become part of the lawsuit, as an example of the racial discrimination Ifill believes tainted the decision.
"Every step taken by the Department to reach this decision reveals that far from a rational and fact-based determination, this decision was driven by calculated, determined and intentional discrimination against Haitian immigrants," Ifill said.
The DHS released a statement arguing that Haitians have abused the privileges granted by the program. According to the DHS, Haitians have "high levels of fraud and abuse and a high rate of overstaying."
The decision affects an estimated 60,000 Haitians in the U.S., who have until July 22, 2019 to either leave the country or to apply for a different type of visa.