A recent unanimous U.S. Supreme Court decision strikes a blow to thousands of immigrants who entered the country illegally and seek permanent residency. On June 7, the high court rejected an argument that would have allowed people shielded under the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) program but who entered the country illegally to secure green cards.
Immigrants who have TPS status fled their home countries due to extreme circumstances such as armed conflict and environmental disasters. The program allows them to work here and avoid deportation. However, the U.S. Supreme Court declared that federal immigration law prevents immigrants with TPS status who illegally entered the country from becoming permanent residents.
El Salvador couple sought permanent residency
There are an estimated 400,000 immigrants in the country who have gained TPS status. In all, they come from 12 countries with the vast majority originally from El Salvador, Haiti and Honduras. The nine other countries are Myanmar (Burma), Nepal, Nicaragua, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Syria, Venezuela and Yemen.
The U.S. Supreme court case in question relates to an El Salvador couple who entered the country illegally in the late 1990s. The husband and wife who had four children – the last born in the U.S. – received TPS status in 2001.
The couple sought in 2014 to join the 85,000 other TPS-protected immigrants in “adjusting” their status in hopes of becoming permanent residents. However, after applying for green cards, the couple were rejected by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. The U.S. Supreme Court affirmed that decision.
The high court’s ruling proves to be a major hurdle for this group of immigrants and possibly could affect Dreamers – immigrants who as children arrived in the country illegally. Now, it appears that only action by U.S. Congress would allow these undocumented immigrants to forge a path toward permanent residency.