Supreme Court Rules Illegal Aliens Can't Seek Citizenship

08 Juin, 2021, 17:51 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • Supreme Court: No green card for TPS holders after illegal entry

The outcome in a case involving a couple from El Salvador who have been in the USA since the 1990s turned on whether people who entered the country illegally and were given humanitarian protections were ever "admitted" into the United States under immigration law. "He therefore can not become a permanent resident of this country", Justice Elena Kagan wrote in the court's opinion.

Federal courts around the country had come to conflicting decisions about whether the grant of TPS status was, by itself, enough to enable an immigrant to try to obtain permanent residency. It was brought by Jose Sanchez and Sonia Gonzalez, natives of El Salvador who entered the United States unlawfully in the late 1990s. It protects them from being deported and they can work legally in the USA, but, now with the Supreme Court ruling, they cannot seek permanent residency.

The TPS program allows individuals from countries in crisis to temporarily reside in the United States while adverse conditions continue to exist at home.

"The government may designate a country for the program when it is beset by especially bad or risky conditions, such as arise from natural disasters or armed conflicts", she wrote. In 2001, Sanchez was provided TPS, a nonimmigrant status that allows him to remain in the USA for as long as the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) extends TPS for El Salvador.

There were about 320,000 TPS recipients living in the United States as of March, according to one estimate.

The question before the court was whether Jose Santos Sanchez, a citizen of El Salvador who entered the United States illegally in 1997 but was granted TPS in 2001, could become a lawful permanent resident. In 2014, the couple sought to apply to "adjust" their status to become lawful permanent residents and apply for a green card.

"Sanchez now wishes to become a lawful permanent resident (LPR) of the United States", she continued.

Kagan said that the conferral of TPS status does not make an unlawful entrant like Sanchez eligible for a green card.

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Kagan said that there was "no dispute" that Sanchez entered the United States "unlawfully, without inspection".

Lawyers for Sanchez argued that was a constrained reading of the law.

Kagan's conclusion is blunt: US law "generally requires a lawful admission before a person can obtain LPR status".

U.S. President Joe Biden has said he supports the change in the law.

The two tracks can sometimes merge, Kagan wrote, if the recipient of temporary protected status had entered the country lawfully.

The Court made the right decision in this case. "Don't you think ... if Congress was intending to do what you want, it was nearly certain there would be more explicit language?"

"Today's decision is not just a setback for those immigrants now in Temporary Protected Status who did not enter the United States lawfully; it also reinforces the barriers that Dreamers would face until and unless Congress provides a statutory path to some kind of permanent lawful status", said Steve Vladeck, CNN Supreme Court analyst and professor at the University of Texas School of Law.

Kagan's opinion represents a blunt refutation of this sleight-of-hand attempt to undermine immigration law.

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