Members of the Haitian community joined immigration advocates outside the federal courthouse in Brooklyn, New York, today (January 7) to mark the start of the first trial of the Trump administration’s termination of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for immigrants from Haiti. If upheld, the termination of TPS will adversely affect roughly 50,000 Haitian immigrants.

In an emailed statement, Service Employees International Union (SEIU) says that the people who would be affected the most felt it was urgent to speak publicly against this action. “Having TPS has made it possible for me to make a life here in New York, and to help support my son in Haiti,” said Gerald Michaud, one of the plaintiffs in the suit. Michaud works as a wheelchair attendant at LaGuardia airport and has been a TPS holder since 2010. “I don’t know what I will do if I am forced to return to Haiti, and I know that many others are in the same position as me.”

Lawyers for Civil Rights filed the lawsuit on behalf of nine individuals, a nonprofit organization and a business; a judge already dismissed an attempt by the Trump administration to throw it out.

Trump ended TPS for Haitians in November 2017 and gave people with the status 18 months to leave the United States or risk deportation. As Colorlines previously reported, Haitian TPS holders have resided in the United States for an average of 13 years and have an estimated 27,000 U.S.-born children. They send billions of dollars back to the island in remittances, which amounted to 25 percent of Haiti’s GDP in 2015.

“The Trump administration’s November 2017 decision to terminate Haiti’s TPS was immoral, racist and unconstitutional. It has thrown the lives of thousands TPS recipients and their U.S.-born children in turmoil,” Marleine Bastien, executive director at Family Action Network Movement, said outside the courthouse this morning. “I hope that the judge will do the right thing to right this wrong, and protect these hard working, deserving individuals who contribute so much to our economy and communities across the U.S.”

Jocelyn Gay, an employee at Haiti Liberté, was also quoted in the SEIU statement. “Trump’s decision to yank Haitians’ TPS is based on racism, demagoguery and political pandering to xenophobes,” she said. “It is illegal, arbitrary and flies in the face of his own officials’ advice.”

This trial is the first to challenge the government’s unlawful termination of TPS in Haiti. Experts on the conditions in the country and former Department of Homeland Security officials are scheduled to testify about why termination of the program would be unlawful.