Make no mistake about the meaning of the Trump administration’s decision Monday to expel nearly 60,000 Haitians who have lived legally in the U.S. since a massive earthquake devastated their homeland in 2010: The world’s richest and most powerful country is intentionally giving the Western Hemisphere’s poorest and most vulnerable nation a gratuitous kick.

The Department of Homeland Security said it terminated the humanitarian program, known as Temporary Protected Status, because conditions in Haiti had improved. “Since the 2010 earthquake, the number of displaced people in Haiti has decreased by 97 percent,” the DHS said in a statement. It also said, “Significant steps have been taken to improve the stability and quality of life for Haitian citizens, and Haiti is able to safely receive traditional levels of returned citizens.”

That assertion is specious.

According to the World Bank, nearly a quarter of Haitians live on less than $1.23 per day; almost 60 percent live under the national poverty line of $2.41 per day. Unemployment is thought to be in the range of 40 percent. The agricultural sector, which accounts for more than a fifth of the economy and nearly 40 percent of its workers, is anemic. About half the country’s population is undernourished, and chronic child malnutrition is widespread.

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke issued her decision just 13 months after Hurricane Matthew ripped across Haiti, inflicting damage equivalent to a third of the country’s gross domestic product. Partly because of the natural disasters, economic growth has slowed to just 1 percent.

Under those circumstances, the administration’s decision to rescind the humanitarian status that allowed so many Haitians to live in the United States amounts to an act of cruelty.