US Supreme Court rules against immigrants seeking green cards

Elias Hubbard
June 8, 2021

Now, the couple and thousands of others like them wish to obtain lawful permanent resident status (colloquially referred to as "getting green cards").

In 2014, Sanchez applied for lawful permanent resident status, commonly known as a green card, to permanently resettle in the U.S. After the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) agency denied Sanchez's green card application on the grounds that he first entered the U.S. illegally, Sanchez challenged the decision in a federal district court and won.

There are an estimated 400,000 people with TPS in the country now, and 85,000 of them have managed to adjust status, CNN reported.

Justice Elena Kagan delivered the unanimous ruling for the court in the case Sanchez v. Mayorkas.

The decision handed a legal victory to the Biden administration, which found itself at odds with a number of Democratic lawmakers and immigrant rights advocacy groups who filed friend of the court briefs in the case.

But lower courts had been divided over whether these migrants, many of whom have lived here for decades, may apply for and receive lawful permanent status. The program shields immigrants from parts of the world undergoing armed conflicts and natural disasters from deportation and allows them to work in the United States.

Kagan wrote that they were not. The designation is also given to countries that can not handle the return of nationals adequately.

The decision turned on a question as to whether people who came to the US illegally, yet were granted humanitarian protections, were ever "admitted" to the country.

"Lawful status and admission, as the court below recognised", she wrote, "are distinct concepts in immigration law: Establishing one does not necessarily establish the other".

The case concerns Jose Sanchez and Sonia Gonzales, a New Jersey couple who came to the USA illegally in 1997 and 1998 and now have four children. Sanchez entered the country illegally in 1997. After a series of earthquakes in 2001, the United States designated El Salvador as covered under the Temporary Protected Status program. Sanchez and Gonzalez appealed to SCOTUS, which ruled against them on the basis that 8 U.S.C. The immigrants hail from 10 countries: El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nepal, Nicaragua, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.

The Supreme Court's ruling means that decision will stand.

The couple is somewhat typical of those who seek permanent status. Sanchez has never claimed that he can, without aid from the TPS provision, satisfy those demands for admission.

Lawyers for Sanchez argued that was a constrained reading of the law. For example, there is a statutory difference between a foreign national who is lawful in status (like Sanchez and Gonzalez) because of having been granted asylum, and one who is unlawful in status (such as a person who legally entered on a student visa and then stayed after completing school).

The government said that while Congress had made some individuals eligible to adjust their status if they met certain criteria and had a sponsor, it was not available to those who had not made a lawful entry.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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