The justices ruled that immigrants who entered the country illegally could not apply for residency despite having “temporary protected status.”
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday sided with President Joe Biden’s administration, ruling that immigrants who were allowed to remain in the United States on humanitarian grounds could not apply for permanent resident status if they entered the country illegally.
On appeal by a couple from El Salvador who were granted so-called “temporary protected status,” judges unanimously upheld a lower court ruling that barred them from applying for residency because they had entered the country illegally.
The ruling could affect thousands of immigrants, many of whom have lived in the United States for years. Biden, who sought to change the immigration policies of his Republican predecessor, Donald Trump, in this case opposed giving immigrants a path to legalization. This has created controversy between the president and some of his fellow Democrats, as well as migrant rights organizations.
The federal Immigration and Nationality Act requires that people who want to become permanent residents be vetted and formally admitted to the United States. The question in this case was whether granting Temporary Protected Status (TPS), which gives the recipient “lawful status,” satisfies this requirement.
Liberal Justice Elena Kagan, in a ruling on behalf of the Supreme Court, stated that granting TPS does not eliminate the disqualifying effect of illegal entry.
Foreign nationals may be granted temporary protected status if their return to their home country appears unsafe because of a humanitarian crisis, such as a natural disaster or armed conflict. About 400,000 people have this status. It protects them from deportation and allows them to work legally.
The appeal was filed by Jose Sanchez and Sonia Gonzalez, who live in New Jersey and are raising four children.