A person who enters the United States unlawfully is not eligible to become a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) even if the United States previously granted the individual temporary protected status. That is a fresh ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court. The decision was unanimous, and Justice Elena Kagan authored the opinion. It was a quick turnaround after being argued in late April.
Jose Santos Sanchez entered the United States illegally from El Salvador in 1997. In 2001, he was granted Temporary Protected Status (TPS), which permits immigrants from certain countries, designated by the U.S. government as having “unusually bad or dangerous conditions,” the ability to stay in this country while those conditions last. In 2014, Sanchez applied for LPR status and was denied by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. He challenged the denial, claiming the TPS status granted him in 2001 made him eligible, and he was successful at the district court. The Third Circuit Court of Appeals overruled the district court, and now the Supreme Court has affirmed the appellate court decision.
Justice Kagan wrote that federal law:
“… generally requires a lawful admission before a person can obtain LPR status. Sanchez was not lawfully admitted, and his TPS does not alter that fact. He therefore cannot become a permanent resident of this country.”
The Supreme Court still has many important cases and petitions left to decide before the justices leave for summer vacation. The next opinion release day is Thursday, June 10.
Read more from Scott D. Cosenza.