Unanimous US Supreme Court dashes residency hopes of ‘temporary protected’

Police officers talk in front of the Supreme Court in Washington (Andrew Harnik/AP)
Police officers talk in front of the Supreme Court in Washington (Andrew Harnik/AP) (AP)
17:26pm, Mon 07 Jun 2021
CBAD8A00-D2B9-4E0E-ADDF-D0366C357A34 Created with sketchtool. E9A4AA46-7DC3-48B8-9CE2-D75274FB8967 Created with sketchtool. 65CCAE04-4748-4D0F-8696-A91D8EB3E7DC Created with sketchtool.

A unanimous US Supreme Court ruled that thousands of people living in the US for humanitarian reasons are ineligible to apply to become permanent residents.

Justice Elena Kagan wrote for the court that federal immigration law prohibits people who entered the country illegally and now have Temporary Protected Status from seeking “green cards” to remain in the country permanently.

The designation applies to people who come from countries ravaged by war or disaster.

It protects them from deportation and allows them to work legally.

There are 400,000 people from 12 countries with TPS status.

The TPS programme gives foreign nationals non-immigrant status, but it does not admit them

The outcome in a case involving a couple from El Salvador who have been in the US since the early 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.

Ms Kagan wrote that they were not.

“The TPS programme gives foreign nationals non-immigrant status, but it does not admit them.

“So the conferral of TPS does not make an unlawful entrant…eligible” for a green card, she wrote.

The House of Representatives already has passed legislation that would make it possible for TPS recipients to become permanent residents, Ms Kagan noted.

The bill faces uncertain prospects in the Senate.

The case pitted the Biden administration against immigrant groups that argued many people who came to the US for humanitarian reasons have lived in the country for many years, given birth to American citizens and put down roots in the US.

In 2001, the US gave Salvadoran migrants legal protection to remain in the US after a series of earthquakes in their home country.

People from 11 other countries are similarly protected.

They are: Haiti, Honduras, Myanmar, Nepal, Nicaragua, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, Venezuela and Yemen.

Monday’s decision does not affect immigrants with TPS who initially entered the US legally and then, say, overstayed their visa, Ms Kagan noted.

Because those people were legally admitted to the country and later were given humanitarian protections, they can seek to become permanent residents.

Sign up to our newsletter