The decision is a setback for thousands of USA residents who are temporarily protected from deportation because of unsafe conditions in their home countries and now want to remain permanently in the U.S.
While TPS does protect illegal immigrants from removal and authorizes them to work in the U.S.as long as the TPS designation lasts, the Court rightly ruled that this provision does not erase a person's unlawful entry into the USA for permanent residency status.
Currently, there are about 400,000 people with TPS status in the country and 85,000 have managed to adjust status.
Justice Kagan specifically explained that proposed legislation would amend §1254 a (f)(4) to formally consider a TPS recipient to have been "inspected and admitted into the United States" - a change that would make all the difference for Sanchez, Gonzalez, and the thousands like them.
The Supreme Court held that federal immigration law "applied according to its plain terms, prevents Sanchez from becoming a [lawful permanent resident]". One part allows some people who have entered the country lawfully to apply for green cards.
Justice Elena Kagan, appointed to the court by former President Obama, wrote in a 9-0 decision that a "TPS recipient who entered the United States unlawfully is not eligible ... for [lawful permanent resident] status merely by dint of his TPS".
Kagan said that there was "no dispute" that Sanchez entered the USA "unlawfully, without inspection". It creates a path to permanent resident status for several categories of immigrants, along with other immigration reforms.
The case decided on Monday involved Jose Santos Sanchez, a citizen of El Salvador who entered the US without authorization in 1997.
"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".
Yet Democrats and immigration activists twist the law to argue that if an illegal immigrant obtains temporary protected status due to violence or bad conditions in his or her home country, he or she can be considered "admitted" for the purposes of obtaining LPR status.
"Petitioner Jose Santos Sanchez entered this country unlawfully from El Salvador".
In 2001, after earthquakes devastated El Salvador, the United States made that country's nationals eligible for the "temporary protected status" program. The U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey ruled in the couple's favor in 2018.
The Supreme Court's ruling means that decision will stand.
Currently, TPS status can be awarded to immigrants from Haiti, El Salvador, Syria, Nepal, Honduras, Yemen, Somalia, Sudan, Nicaragua, Myanmar, South Sudan and Venezuela.
Because Sanchez did not enter the US lawfully, the court said that he could not qualify for long-term protected status. Because those people were legally admitted to the country and later were given humanitarian protections, they can seek to become permanent residents. But the same is not true of those who entered illegally.
'They clearly were not admitted at the borders, so is that a fiction, is it metaphysical, what is it?