Justice Elena Kagan, writing for the court, said that US immigration law blocks migrants who entered the country illegally from obtaining permanent residency, or "green cards", although they have Temporary Protected Status.
Currently, besides El Salvador, migrants with TPS status from 11 other countries are protected from deportation. "The TPS program gives foreign nationals nonimmigrant status, but it does not admit them".
That means TPS recipients who entered the county legally as students or tourists, and stayed under TPS may obtain a green card, said Jusice Elena Kagan.
The Biden Administration has said it supports a change in the law. In 2001, Sanchez was provided TPS, a nonimmigrant status that allows him to remain in the USA for as long as the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) extends TPS for El Salvador.
"A$3 grant of TPS does not come with a ticket of admission", wrote Kagan, because it "does not eliminate the disqualifying effect of an unlawful entry". It creates a path to permanent resident status for several categories of immigrants, along with other immigration reforms. It was brought by Jose Sanchez and Sonia Gonzalez, natives of El Salvador who entered the United States unlawfully in the late 1990s.
Foreign nationals can be granted Temporary Protected Status if a humanitarian crisis in their home country, such as a natural disaster or armed conflict, would make their return unsafe.
The couple twice entered the United States illegally: in 1997 and 1998.
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A federal law called the Immigration and Nationality Act generally requires that people seeking to become permanent residents have been "inspected and admitted" into the United States.
Though the two tracks can sometimes merge, she noted, individuals who enter the country illegally do not become eligible for green cards due to their temporary status. After a series of earthquakes in 2001, the United States designated El Salvador as covered under the Temporary Protected Status program.
Temporary protected status has been extended to about 320,000 immigrants from El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nepal, Nicaragua and Sudan. The U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey ruled in the couple's favor in 2018.
The high court's decision on Monday is the second unanimous decision it has released on immigration in the current cycle of rulings. Later, in 2001, the two were granted Temporary Protected Status in the US after El Salvador was rocked by devastating earthquakes. Because those people were legally admitted to the country and later were given humanitarian protections, they can seek to become permanent residents.
"'Recipients of TPS, ' the agency reasoned, "must still meet the threshold requirement" of a lawful entry", the justice continued. Yet blatant violations of immigration law do not disappear when Congress grants illegal immigrants a temporary status due to awful conditions in their home countries.
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.