On Monday, June 7, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled against an application for permanent residency by an immigrant who entered the country illegally and who is protected by a program that allows him to work called Temporary Protected Status (TPS).
Jose Santos Sanchez, an illegal alien from El Salvador, came to the United States illegally in 1997. In 2001, Sanchez obtained temporary protected status that allows him to remain in the United States as long as the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) allows him.
In 2014, Sanchez applied for lawful permanent resident status. After the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) agency denied him because he had entered the U.S. illegally, Sanchez appealed the decision in federal district court and won.
Subsequently, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit reversed the decision. By entering the country illegally, he violated federal immigration law and was therefore ineligible for permanent residency.
“The question here is whether the conferral of TPS enables him to obtain [lawful permanent resident] status despite his unlawful entry. We hold that it does not,” Justice Elena Kagan wrote in the Supreme Court ruling.
” There is no dispute that Sanchez ‘entered the United States in the late 1990s unlawfully, without inspection.’ But as earlier described, §1255 requires a [lawful permanent resident] applicant like Sanchez to have entered the country ‘lawful[ly],’ with ‘inspection’—that is, to have been admitted,” the verdict explains.
“Indeed, §1255 imposes an admission requirement twice over. Its principal provision states that an applicant for [lawful permanent resident] status must have been ‘inspected and admitted or paroled into the United States,’” it concludes.
Temporary Protected Status is a program approved by Congress in 1990 under the premise of preventing a certain group of people coming from countries where there are famines, earthquakes, epidemics, or wars from being deported and being able to reside temporarily in the United States, and even work legally.
There are about 400,000 immigrants in the TPS program, and they are from Haiti, El Salvador, Honduras, Burma (Myanmar), Nepal, Nicaragua, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen, Syria, and Venezuela.
During his administration, former President Donald Trump tried to close the program but his attempts were blocked in federal courts until reaching the last instance, the Supreme Court.
Of the more than 400,000 immigrants enjoying TPS, 262,500 are from El Salvador, 86,600 from Honduras, 58,600 from Haiti and 14,800 from Nepal.
Beyond being countries impoverished by decades of corruption and bad policies, none of them have wars per se, or extreme weather conditions as described in the program’s requirement.
Another important case that the Court will have to review that shares many similarities with TPS is the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program, an Obama-era policy that granted protection from deportation to immigrants who entered illegally as minors.
There are an estimated 1,326,000 immigrants in this group, which increased this year thanks to the pro-immigration policies of the Biden administration.
Supreme Court charts the future of the U.S.
The Court’s ruling is the third of the year relevant to illegal immigration in the United States.
On January 1, the Court rejected a federal judge’s decision to grant financial relief—granted to Americans under the pandemic—to illegal immigrants seeking asylum to remain in the country. On March 24, they also unanimously rejected the request of a previously deported criminal illegal immigrant seeking not to be deported.