(AP) — The Supreme Court
ruled unanimously Monday that thousands of people
in the United States
for humanitarian reasons are ineligible to apply for permanent residency.
According to Justice Elena Kagan's dissenting opinion, federal immigration
law prohibits people who entered the country illegally and now have Temporary Protected Status
from applying for "green
cards" to remain in the country permanently.
TPS status is granted to people who come from war-torn or disaster-stricken countries, and it protects them from deportation and allows them to work
legally. There are currently 400,000 people with TPS status from 12 countries.
The outcome of a case involving an El Salvadoran couple who had been in the United States since the early 1990s hinged on whether people who entered the country illegally and were granted humanitarian protections were ever “admitted” into the country under immigration law.
They were not, according to Kagan. “The TPS program grants foreign nationals nonimmigrant status, but it does not admit them, so TPS does not make an unlawful entrant...eligible” for a green card, she wrote.
According to Kagan, the House of Representatives
has already passed legislation that would allow TPS recipients to become permanent residents; however, the bill's prospects in the Senate
The case pitted the Biden administration
against immigrant groups, who claimed that many people who came to the United States for humanitarian reasons had lived in the country for many years, given birth to American citizens, and established roots.
After a series of earthquakes in their home country, the United States granted Salvadoran migrants
legal protection to stay in the country in 2001.
Haiti, Honduras, Myanmar
, Nicaragua, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria
, Venezuela, and Yemen
are among the 11 other countries where citizens are similarly protected.