US Supreme Court Denies Permanent Residency Status to Immigrants Who Enter Illegally

Supreme Court: No green card for TPS holders after illegal entry

The Supreme Court on Monday unanimously ruled that an undocumented immigrant that had been granted temporary protected status could not obtain lawful permanent entry.

A unanimous Supreme Court on Monday said immigrants who entered the US illegally can not apply for green cards simply because they enjoy Temporary Protected Status, or TPS. At issue in the case was whether a grant of Temporary Protected Status (TPS), which gives the recipient 'lawful status, ' satisfies those requirements.

The 11-page opinion in Sanchez v. Mayorkas, court file 20-315, was written by Justice Elena Kagan.

TPS prevents deportation and allows immigrants to work legally in the USA if returning to their home country is unsafe due to a humanitarian crisis like a natural disaster or war.

Kagan held that two parts of the immigration laws operate on separate tracks - one track allows some immigrants who entered the country legally to apply for green cards, and the other track allows immigrants, whether they entered legally or not, to pursue TPS. The designation is also given to countries that can not handle the return of nationals adequately.

The ruling in Sanchez v. Mayorkas, authored by Justice Elena Kagan, could affect tens of thousands of immigrants now living in the US under Temporary Protected Status, the Associated Press reported.

A federal law called the Immigration and Nationality Act generally requires that people seeking to become permanent residents have been "inspected and admitted" into the United States.

The case concerns Jose Sanchez and Sonia Gonzales, a New Jersey couple who came to the U.S. illegally in 1997 and 1998 and now have four children.

Sanchez and Gonzalez entered the country separately in 1997 and 1998.


In 2001, after earthquakes devastated El Salvador, the United States made that country's nationals eligible for the "temporary protected status" program.

Temporary protected status, Judge Thomas M. Hardiman wrote for the unanimous three-judge panel, "does not constitute an admission". But his administration, like the Trump administration, argued that current immigration law doesn't permit people who entered the country illegally to apply for permanent residency.

Currently, TPS status can be awarded to immigrants from Haiti, El Salvador, Syria, Nepal, Honduras, Yemen, Somalia, Sudan, Nicaragua, Myanmar, South Sudan and Venezuela.

Although a district court ruled in favor of the couple, an appeals court reversed.

The Supreme Court's ruling means that decision will stand.

The Supreme Court says it will release more rulings on Thursday.

The case decided by the Supreme Court began when Jose Sanchez and his wife, Sonia Gonzalez, sought green cards.

Michael Kagan, a University of Nevada law professor and immigration lawyer, tweeted: 'SCOTUS decision on TPS (Sanchez) is just one more measure forcing large numbers of immigrants to live precariously, depending for their futures on the result of the next presidential election, at a time when free and fair elections themselves are increasingly less than certain'. But the same is not true of those who entered illegally.

In 2014, USCIS turned down Sanchez's application for a green card because he was deemed not to have been lawfully admitted to the United States.

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