WASHINGTON (AP) — A unanimous Supreme Court ruled Monday that thousands of people living in the U.S. 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 outcome in a case involving a couple from El Salvador who have been in the U.S. 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.

Kagan wrote that they were not. “The TPS program gives foreign nationals nonimmigrant 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, Kagan noted. The bill faces uncertain prospects in the Senate.

President Joe Biden has said he supports the change in the law. But his administration, like the Trump administration, argued that current immigration law doesn't permit people who entered the country illegally to apply for permanent residency.

On the other side were immigrant groups that argued many people who came to the U.S. for humanitarian reasons have lived in the country for many years, given birth to American citizens and put down roots in the U.S.

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.

Former President Donald Trump tried to cancel the program for many immigrants, stoking fear they could be sent back to their homelands where they haven't lived in many years.

“All of these families that are established in the United States and have lived in our communities for decades faced a very real threat,” said Lisa Koop, a lawyer with the National Immigrant Justice Center who also teaches at Notre Dame's law school.

In 2001, the U.S. gave Salvadoran migrants legal protection to remain in the U.S. 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 U.S. legally and then, say, overstayed their visa, Kagan noted. Because those people were legally admitted to the country and later were given humanitarian protections, they can seek to become permanent residents.

Also on Monday, the court:

— Declined to hear a challenge to the requirement that only men register for the draft when they turn 18.

— Agreed to hear a case in which the Biden administration wants to halt a lawsuit over FBI surveillance of Muslims in California because it could reveal “state secrets.”

— Turned away an appeal questioning the federal Food and Drug Administration's authority to regulate electronic cigarettes.

(6) comments


What about those who entered country by legal means, but because they don't have a family sponsor they cannot get legal residency - even after being in US over 25 years... paid US taxes all those years.


We have natural disasters in this country too, but we dust ourselves off and get back to rebuilding. It is time other countries learned to help themselves instead of relying on the U.S. and other countries to shelter them, provide them manpower, and money. El Salvador had an earthquake 20 years ago. It is long past their time to return home and make something of their nations.




Francesca, we wouldn’t be a nation if it wasn’t for other countries helping use. Obviously Central American problems are our problem. If not, you wouldn’t be commenting. Right? So let’s talk about solutions. Not focus on “we are better then them or our current administration will fail, that doesn’t address the problems and doesn’t solve anything.

Who are we?

Some of our neighbors don’t have the same resources we have. That’s why many people are leaving Central America. Among other things, It’s ‘Climate Change’. That had a greatly impacted on those countries, ecosystems now in decline, losing natural vegetation, they don’t have reservoirs, dams to store water supply to offset droughts, for growing crops don’t exist. The people are starving, desperate to the point, they send their children on a 2,500 mile dangerous exodus. Like Moses exodus from Egypt to Canaan it was twice the distance and took 40 years.

When it comes to helping your neighbor, you remember Cuba offered emergency resources after Katrina? Or the fire fighters coming from across the world to help fight wild fires, or NATO invoking ‘Article 5’ for the first time in its history after the 9/11 in our defense?

The United States ranks about 25th in the world when it comes to taking in people seeking refuge. We aren’t scrooge but prefer to send funding and other resources to destinations in trouble.

Solutions: No doubt we can’t take all the folks from Central America but at the same time their biggest export shouldn’t be people to the United States. Right? I think we should take a serious look at addressing and building their economy by building their infrastructure and encouraging private enterprise. American capitalist - ventures that grow wealth not to exploit but to build simultaneously, improving their economy and have their welfare systems.

The population of all of Central America is half the population of the US. That’s a huge potential market.


Sounds like the law was quite clear. 9-0 decisions are not all that common.

"WASHINGTON (AP) — A unanimous Supreme Court ruled Monday that thousands of people living in the U.S. 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."


Yep, the ruling was unanimous. ‘One’ can be granted “Temporary Protection Status” even if entered illegally, but can’t apply for permanent residency (a green card). Individuals who are granted TPS are authorized to work.

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