Illegal Immigrants Can’t Pursue Permanent Residency
On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously that immigrants who are permitted to temporarily stay in the country are ineligible to apply for “green cards” if they got into the country illegally.
The Sanches v. Mayorkas ruling, penned by Justice Elana Kagan, may affect thousands of immigrants living in the country at the moment under Temporary Protected Status.
Jose Sanchez and Sonia Gonzalez, a married couple who illegally entered the U.S. from El Salvador in the late 90s, brought the case. In 2001, the two received Temporary Protected Status in the country following a series of earthquakes that devastated their home country.
Temporary Protected Status or TPS is granted to foreign nationals from specific countries that have been ravaged by armed conflict or natural disaster. These allow people to live and work in the U.S. without having to worry about deportation.
In 2014, the couple applied for “green cards” or permanent resident status. However, they were denied this, so they sued.
The Third Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia then ruled against the couple. The court argued that federal immigration law deemed the couple ineligible. The immigration law states that applicants should have undergone inspection and admittance into the country.
Supreme Court Agrees With Earlier Ruling on TPS Eligibility for Green Cards
In the unanimous ruling on Monday, SCOTUS agreed with the said decision.
Kagan maintained that a couple of parts of the immigration laws work in separate ways. One would allow a few immigrants who legally entered the U.S. to apply for green cards. Meanwhile, the other lets immigrants who entered legally or not pursue TPS.
Kagan said these two paths merge in some cases. However, she said people who illegally entered the country do not become eligible due to their temporary status.
She said that “Lawful status and admission” are two distinct concepts included in immigration law. She also added that establishing one of them doesn’t automatically establish the other.
Kagan then added that the TPS program provides foreign nationals a nonimmigrant status. It doesn’t, however, admit them. Therefore, she said, “the conferral of TPS” doesn’t make an illegal immigrant eligible for a green card.
Currently, around 400,000 people in the country have TPS, and 85,000 of those people managed to adjust status, per CNN.