The United States Supreme Court unanimously issued a ruling on Monday in which it ruled that thousands of people living in the country for humanitarian reasons they will not be able to apply for permanent residence.
It was Judge Elena Kagan, who wrote the ruling, who affirmed that federal immigration law prohibits people who entered the country illegally (and who now have Temporary Protected Status, or TPS) apply for the green card to stay in the country permanently.
The designation applies to people who come from countries ravaged by war or disaster. This protects them from deportation, and allows them to work legally. There are 400,000 people from 12 countries with TPS status.
There are 400,000 people from 12 countries with TPS status in the United States. Photo: AFP
The outcome of a case involving a couple from El Salvador who have been in the United States since the early 1990s depended on whether the people who entered the country illegally and received humanitarian protection they were ever “admitted” to the United States under immigration law.
Kagan wrote that they were not. “The TPS program grants aliens a nonimmigrant status, but does not admit them. Therefore, the granting of TPS does not make an illegal immigrant … eligible” for a green card, he wrote.
The House of Representatives had already passed a law that would allow TPS recipients become permanent residentsKagan pointed out. The bill faces uncertain prospects in the Senate.
The case pitted the Biden administration against immigrant groups who argued that many people who came to the United States for humanitarian reasons have lived in the country for many years, have given birth to American citizens, and have put down roots in the United States.
In 2001, the United States gave Salvadoran immigrants legal protection to remain in the country after a series of earthquakes in their country of origin.
People in 11 other countries enjoy similar protection. They are: Haiti, Honduras, Myanmar, Nepal, Nicaragua, Somalia, South Sudan, Syria, Venezuela and Yemen.