Unanimous Supreme Court Upholds Immigration Law

  • Unanimous Supreme Court Upholds Immigration Law

Unanimous Supreme Court Upholds Immigration Law

The decision is a setback for thousands of US residents who are temporarily protected from deportation because of unsafe conditions in their home countries and now want to remain permanently in the U.S.

Justice Elena Kagan, writing for the court, said that USA immigration law blocks migrants who entered the country illegally from obtaining permanent residency, or "green cards", although they have Temporary Protected Status.

More than 400,000 immigrants now live in the US under TPS. "He therefore can not become a permanent resident of this country", Justice Elena Kagan wrote in the court's opinion.

Sanchez successfully challenged his denial in federal court when a judge ruled that Sanchez's TPS status effectively granted him lawful admission to the U.S. But a federal appeals court overturned that ruling, prompting Sanchez's unsuccessful appeal to the Supreme Court.

The case confronted two sections of immigration law: one that says that those in TPS should be considered as "maintaining lawful status", and another that says in order to adjust status, an individual in TPS must have been admitted lawfully. But his administration argued that current immigration law doesn't permit people who entered the country illegally to apply for permanent residency.

"A$3 grant of TPS does not come with a ticket of admission", wrote Kagan, because it "does not eliminate the disqualifying effect of an unlawful entry". The designation is also given to countries that can not handle the return of nationals adequately. They are natives of El Salvador who have lived as a married couple in New Jersey for more than 20 years.

"Lawful status and admission, as the court below recognised", she wrote, "are distinct concepts in immigration law: Establishing one does not necessarily establish the other".

Sanchez and Gonzalez entered the country separately in 1997 and 1998. After a series of earthquakes in 2001, the United States designated El Salvador as covered under the Temporary Protected Status program.

There are an estimated 320,000 foreign nationals now living in the US and protected by TPS, according to the Congressional Research Service.

The decision turned on a question as to whether people who came to the USA illegally, yet were granted humanitarian protections, were ever "admitted" to the country.

While the TPS program allows Sanchez "to remain in the country; and it deems him in nonimmigrant status for purposes of applying to become an LPR".

Besides El Salvador, 11 other countries now have such designations: Haiti, Honduras, Myanmar, Nepal, Nicaragua, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Syria, Venezuela and Yemen. Because those people were legally admitted to the country and later were given humanitarian protections, they can seek to become permanent residents.

Conservative justice Clarence Thomas initially suggested the Supreme Court would be reluctant to let immigrants with protected status apply for permanent residency when the case was first presented to the court on April 19. For instances, she wrote, a foreign national who entered the country legally on a tourist visa, but stayed on for several months after the visa's expiration would meet the requirement that he entered the country lawfully. But they were not lawfully admitted.