SCOTUS Rules Against Amnesty for Illegal Immigrants with Temporary Protected Status

Libby | June 8, 2021
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In a unanimous decision on Monday, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) disallowed Temporary Protected Status (TPS) recipients from applying for green cards.

Written by Associate Justice Elena Kagan, one of the court’s left-leaning justices, the opinion of the Court asserted that federal immigration law requires immigrants to be “inspected and admitted or paroled” in order to receive amnesty.

The TPS program allows for illegal immigrants fleeing countries, “having unusually bad or dangerous conditions to live and work in,” to avoid deportation and allows them to work legally in the U.S., the Writ of Certiorari notes.

According to the Associated Press (AP), around 400,000 people from 12 different countries in the U.S. are currently recipients of this program.

The case, Sanchez v. Mayorkas, Secretary of Homeland Security, arrived at the nation’s high court in January after Jose Sanchez and Sonia Gonzales, an illegal immigrant couple with TPS status from El Salvador, were denied amnesty, the Daily Caller reported.

The couple unlawfully entered the U.S. in 1997, as the opinion notes, and was not given TPS status until 2001 when El Salvador was considered in crisis due to a series of earthquakes.

Though TPS gives asylum to illegal immigrants from certain countries, it does not inherently admit them, as it simply gives them nonimmigrant status. However, to apply for lawful permanent resident (LPR) status, an individual must be lawfully admitted.

“Sanchez was not lawfully admitted, and his TPS does not alter that fact,” Kagan wrote in the opinion of the Court. “He therefore cannot become a permanent resident of this country.”

More broadly than Sanchez and Gonzales being denied amnesty, SCOTUS limited the whole TPS category of illegal immigrants from qualifying for amnesty and ruled in line with federal immigration law.

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