The Supreme Court issued a ruling Monday that could negatively impact thousands of immigrants living in the U.S. The ruling essentially makes many immigrants here under Temporary Protected Status for humanitarian reasons 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 rule applies to people who come from countries hit hard by war or disaster. It protects them from deportation and gives them the opportunity to seek employment. There are roughly 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 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. The House of Representatives already has passed legislation that would make it possible for TPS recipients to become permanent residents. The bill is uncertain to pass in the Senate. The case put the Biden administration against 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. 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. Because those people were legally admitted to the country and later were given humanitarian protections, they can seek to become permanent residents.