By Kerry Martin
Associate Editor, Vol. 24
How racist can the President of the United States be in determining immigration policy before he violates the Equal Protection Clause? A lot depends on who the target is—and with recipients of temporary protected status, Trump may have picked on the wrong people.
Donald Trump announced his candidacy with anti-Latino animus (“When Mexico sends its people…”) and has not backed down since entering the White House. In response to allegations of crime by Central American immigrants on Long Island, President Trump remarked: “They come from Central America. They’re tougher than any people you’ve ever met. They’re killing and raping everybody out there.” Of Haitians, Trump said they “all have AIDS” and asked, “why do we need more Haitians?” And in response to an immigration proposal that would have included protections for Salvadorans, Haitians, and some Africans, Trump inquired, “Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?”
This racial animus seems inextricable from every immigration policy decision made by the Trump Administration, from ramping up internal enforcement and border protection, to pushing for legislation that would curb “chain migration” and fund a border wall. But it has proven difficult, at least for purposes of stating a legal claim, to tie these broad-sweeping policy choices to Trump’s racist statements, even if “[e]veryone knows” that the two are related.