The Supreme Court on Monday dealt a setback to hundreds of thousands of immigrants who have so-called temporary protected status, ruling they can’t have a green card if they entered the country illegally.
In a 9-0 decision, the justices said federal law protects these immigrants from deportation and it allows them to obtain a work permit, but it does not give them a right to lawful permanent status unless they are here “pursuant to a lawful admission.”
That means TPS recipients who entered the county legally as students or tourists, and stayed under TPS may obtain a green card, said Jusice Elena Kagan. But the same is not true of those who entered illegally.
“Because a grant of TPS does not come with a ticket of admission,” she wrote in Sanchez vs. Mayorkas, “it does not eliminate the disqualifying effect of an unlawful entry.”
Temporary protected status has been extended to about 320,000 immigrants from El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nepal, Nicaragua and Sudan.
But lower courts had been divided over whether these migrants, many of whom have lived here for decades, may apply for and receive lawful permanent status. Four years ago, the 9th Circuit Court in California ruled that TPS recipients were eligible for green cards even if they entered the country illegally.
The case decided by the Supreme Court began when Jose Sanchez and his wife, Sonia Gonzalez, sought green cards. They arrived from El Salvador in the late 1990s, established lives and careers in New Jersey and had four sons. But they were not lawfully admitted.
Kagan said Congress is considering legislation that would allow such TPS recipients to obtain lawful permanent resident status, but only Congress, not the court, can change the law in this respect.
“Sanchez was not lawfully admitted, and his TPS does not alter that fact,” she wrote. “He therefore cannot become a permanent resident of this country.”
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