GJC’s Ellie Happel Expert Witness in Case Blocking Trump Administration from Terminating TPS For Haiti

On Thursday, April 11, 2019 Judge Kuntz of the Eastern District of New York issued a nationwide Preliminary Injunction that blocks the Trump Administration from terminating TPS for Haiti.  Global Justice Clinic Haiti Project Director Ellie Happel was the first witness called by the plaintiffs in the case.  Ellie’s expert testimony was based both on her experience living in Haiti during the time under consideration (2010–2017), and on the facts presented in the Global Justice Clinic report, Extraordinary Conditions: A Statutory Analysis of Haiti’s Qualification for TPS

The Trump Administration ended TPS for Haiti in November, 2017.  Judge Kuntz ruled that the decision by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to terminate TPS for Haiti was improperly influenced by the White House.  The decision was “reverse engineered” to “get to no,” ruled Judge Kuntz, finding that the Plaintiffs were likely to succeed on claims they brought under both the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) and the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution.  The judge found that there was significant evidence that the decision to terminate was a “preordained outcome,” including evidence that suggesting that, in fewer than 30 minutes, a DHS employee reworked a memo that favored extending TPS for Haiti to one that supported termination.  The Court found that the plaintiffs’ Equal Protection claim raises “serious concerns.”  “Based on the facts on this record, and under the [relevant legal framework], there is both direct and circumstantial evidence [that] a discriminatory purpose of removing non-white immigrants from the United States was a motivating factor behind the decision to terminate TPS for Haiti.”  Judge Kuntz concluded that “absent injunctive relief, Plaintiffs, as well as 50,000 to 60,000 Haitian TPS beneficiaries and their 30,000 U.S. Citizen children stand to suffer serious harm.”

In addition to Ellie’s role as an expert witness in this case, the Global Justice Clinic was involved in a FOIA lawsuit that divulged relevant records from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the State Department.  These records were integral to this case and others challenging the Trump Administration’s termination of TPS for Haiti.  Professor Margaret Satterthwaite served as a plaintiff in the FOIA lawsuit.

April 16, 2019.