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Supreme Court to hear landmark immigration case that will decide fate of thousands of illegal crossers

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The U.S. Supreme Court will hear a case on Monday that will determine what happens to tens of thousands of migrants who crossed illegally into the United States under the guise of Temporary Protected Status (TPS).

At issue is the U.S. designation of certain countries for TPS if they are determined to be too dangerous due to civil war and internal strife as well as natural disasters such as hurricanes and earthquakes. The designation also includes conditions that are “extraordinary and temporary.”

People from duly designated countries who are in the U.S. after illegally entering can get benefits and privileges including employment and authorization for travel. They are also shielded from being deported, Fox News reported.

But in recent years, federal circuit courts have divided over the question of whether people who entered illegally but now fall under TPS protections can still apply for green cards without first having to leave the country, then apply to return.

The case on Monday, Sanchez v. Mayorkas, stems from a Third Circuit Court of Appeals ruling against two applicants for green cards, Jose Santos Sanchez and Sonia Gonzalez, in reversing a lower court’s ruling.

One of the principal issues in the case is whether granting protections under TPS amounts to “admission” into the U.S. under the auspices of a separate statute allowing for a change in immigrant status if said persons were “inspected and admitted or paroled” into the country.

“[A] grant of TPS cannot be an ‘admission’ because § 1254a requires an alien to be present in the United States to be eligible for TPS,” the Third Circuit said in its ruling, citing the law that governs TPS. “Consistent with that fact, we have recognized that TPS is not ‘a program of entry for an alien.’”

The ruling also acknowledged that Congress enacted an exception to the admission standard for some people but not for anyone falling under the protection of TPS.

“Instead, it said that an alien with TPS ‘shall be considered as being in, and maintaining, lawful status as a nonimmigrant,’” the Third Circuit Court said.

Additionally, the Third Circuit further ruled that TPS is of a temporary nature and thus is not designed to grant permanent admission status.

“Treating a grant of TPS as an admission would open the door to more permanent status adjustments that Congress did not intend,” the court ruled.

But U.S. District Judge Robert Kugler of New Jersey wrote that “lawful status” conveyed through TPS “is wholly consistent with being considered as though Plaintiffs had been ‘inspected and admitted[.]'”

Taking the side of the 3rd Circuit were the 5th and 11th Circuits; taking the opposing view were the 6th, 8th, and 9th Circuit Courts, Fox News noted.

If the high court rules in favor of Sanchez and Gonzales, both of whom hail from El Salvador, it would mean that thousands of people who are currently living inside the U.S. will obtain the right to apply for and receive a green card.

But if the justices uphold the Third Circuit court’s interpretation of the law, then those covered by TPS would be forced to leave the U.S. and apply for green cards from within their countries of origin. The kicker, however, is that those people would have to wait for a decade because they came into the U.S. illegally, as per federal law.

Also noteworthy: The case comes as the Biden administration continues to struggle with a worsening migrant crisis at the border, which does not appear to be subsiding.

Jon Dougherty

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