© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: People walk past the United States Supreme Court on court day to issue orders and opinions in Washington, United States, June 1, 2021. REUTERS / Erin Scott
By Andrew Chung
– The United States Supreme Court on Monday refused to allow immigrants allowed to stay in the United States on humanitarian grounds to apply to become permanent residents if they entered the country illegally, siding with the president’s administration Joe Biden.
The judges, acting in an appeal by a married couple from El Salvador who were granted so-called temporary protection status, unanimously upheld a lower court ruling banning their applications for permanent residence, also called green card, due to their illegal entry. .
The case could affect thousands of immigrants, many of whom have lived in the United States for years.
Biden, who sought to overturn many of the intransigent immigration policies of his Republican predecessor Donald Trump, had opposed immigrants in the affair, putting the president at odds with immigration advocacy groups and some of his fellow Democrats.
A federal law called the Immigration and Nationality Act generally requires that people seeking to become permanent residents have been “inspected and admitted” to the United States. The issue at issue was whether the granting of Temporary Protected Status (TPS), which gives the beneficiary “legal status”, meets these requirements.
Writing for the court, Liberal Judge Elena Kagan said that “because a GST grant does not come with an admission ticket, it does not eliminate the disqualifying effect of illegal entry.”
Foreign nationals may be granted temporary protection status if a humanitarian crisis in their country of origin, such as a natural disaster or armed conflict, would make their return unsafe. There are approximately 400,000 people in the United States with protected status, which prevents deportation and allows them to work legally.
The case involves Jose Sanchez and Sonia Gonzalez, who live in New Jersey and have four children.
“We are of course very disappointed that the court has ruled against the rights of immigrants who have otherwise played by the rules like Mr. and Mrs. Sanchez,” said Jaime Aparisi, the couple’s lawyer. “TPS recipients like them have lived and worked legally here for 20 years.”
The Justice Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The couple entered the United States illegally on two occasions: in 1997 and 1998. After a series of earthquakes in 2001, the United States designated El Salvador as covered by the Temporary Protected Status program. The couple received protection under the program the same year.
US authorities rejected their 2014 green card applications because they had not been legally accepted. They sued in federal court, claiming that people with legal status, including beneficiaries of temporary protected status, are deemed to have been legally admitted and can apply for permanent residence. Last year, the Philadelphia-based 3rd United States Court of Appeals ruled against the couple.
Besides El Salvador, 11 other countries currently have such designations: Haiti, Honduras, Myanmar, Nepal, Nicaragua, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Syria, Venezuela and Yemen. Myanmar was the latest addition to the list, placed there by the Biden administration following the February 1 military coup.
The Supreme Court ruled on the case on a day when Vice President Kamala Harris visited Guatemala as part of the Biden administration’s efforts to pressure that country as well as El Salvador and Honduras to quash Guatemala. ‘they do more to fight corruption in order to improve social conditions and Central American countries less willing to emigrate.