TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Immigrant rights activists on Thursday hailed a federal judge's temporary halt to a Trump administration plan that would have resulted in the forced deportations of 300,000 refugees receiving temporary protected status.

  • Lawsuit filed on behalf of group of affected refugees
  • Temporary injunction in place until lawsuit runs course
  • Lawsuit claims policy grounded in "overt racism"

The TPS refugees immigrated to the United States from El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua and Sudan - countries rattled by natural disasters, political strife, or both. They represent three-quarters of all immigrants receiving legal status and work authorization under the 28-year-old TPS program.

Late Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Edward Chen issued a preliminary injunction in a lawsuit brought by a group of affected TPS immigrants. The ruling bars the Trump administration from deporting the 300,000 TPS refugees as planned on November 2 and orders the government to continue granting TPS protections to eligible immigrants while the suit runs its course.

On a press conference call Thursday morning, Wilna Destin, a Haitian TPS enrollee living in Orlando, was ecstatic.

"I'm so happy and proud of what we're doing, and we're going to keep fighting and fighting for the right thing, you know, as a mother, as a wife, as a family member, so, I have to fight to keep this right," Destin said.

Progressive activists have charged the administration's immigration policies are grounded in overt racism, using the power of the federal government to embrace the nationalistic themes that marked President Trump's divisive 2016 campaign. By drawing attention to the legal fight over the TPS program, they hope to mobilize anti-Trump voters in November's midterm elections.

But the president and his allies maintain the planned deportations are part of a larger immigration reform effort that was mandated by voters in 2016 and will ensure Americans who want work can find it. 

"This legislation demonstrates our compassion for struggling American families who deserve an immigration system that puts their needs first and that puts America first," Trump said in introducing the green card-curtailing RAISE Act last year.