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Federal judge refuses to dismiss claim of Trump’s hostility to Latinos

Vanessa Rojana of Bridgehampton joins fellow Long Islanders

Vanessa Rojana of Bridgehampton joins fellow Long Islanders at a demonstration on Dec. 6, 2016, in Washington, D.C., to pass a "clean" DREAM Act for young immigrants who came to the United States illegally as children. Credit: Evelyn Hockstein

A Brooklyn federal judge on Thursday refused to dismiss a lawsuit claim that the Trump administration is trying to kill the program protecting immigrants who came to the United States illegally as children because of the president’s hostility toward Mexicans and Latinos.

U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis said President Donald Trump’s “disheartening number” of racially hostile “slurs” and “epithets” created a “plausible inference” of discrimination that should go to trial in a case challenging government efforts to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

The judge cited comments in which Trump criticized a judge of Mexican heritage, focused on Mexican immigrants who were “criminals, drug dealers [and] rapists” and other references to Latino immigrants as “animals” and “bad hombres.”

“The court does not see why it must or should bury its head in the sand when faced with overt expressions of prejudice,” Garaufis wrote. “. . . At the very least one might reasonably infer that a candidate who makes overtly bigoted statements on the campaign trail might be more likely to engage in similarly bigoted action while in office.”

The program protects an estimated 800,000 young persons, who call themselves “Dreamers,” from deportation.

A California judge and Garaufis both have issued injunctions blocking the planned end to the program, which Trump has said he wants Congress to save.

In Thursday’s ruling, Garaufis allowed a claim that canceling the program was arbitrary to go forward, as well as the discrimination claim. But he dismissed procedural claims about the way the administration ended the program, and claims that rules protecting the confidentiality of applicants’ information were improperly changed.

The government has argued that President Barack Obama exceeded his authority in creating the program in the first place, and that Trump’s campaign statements were unrelated to his efforts to eliminate DACA.

The Justice Department tried to appeal rulings by U.S. District Judge William Alsup in California directly to the Supreme Court, but the high court ordered the case to follow the normal process of appeal through federal appeals courts.

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