U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services can grant temporary protected status to people from a country where conditions prevent them from returning safely. Temporary protected status can extend to people who initially entered the country illegally.
In June 2021, the United States Supreme Court heard the case of a couple from El Salvador who had temporary protected status after entering the country unlawfully and wanted to apply for green cards. Ultimately, the Court decided against the couple, a decision which has implications for other immigrants in similar situations.
What did the decision say?
According to the Associated Press, the Supreme Court ruled that only people admitted to the United States under immigration laws are eligible for a change of status to lawful permanent resident. For people who entered the country unlawfully, there was no such admittance. TPS grants nonimmigrant status to foreign nationals but does not make them eligible for a green card.
Whom does the decision affect?
Currently, the USCIS extends TPS status to people from 11 countries besides El Salvador due to conditions that prevent people from going back. Some of the other countries include Yemen, Sudan, Venezuela, Myanmar, Nicaragua and Haiti. Altogether, there are 400,000 people from the 12 countries with TPS status. However, the decision would only affect those not admitted to the United States at a port of entry.
How could Congress help people with TPS affected by the decision?
There is legislation in Congress that would change the law so that people with temporary protected status who entered the country unlawfully could obtain green cards. It has already passed the House of Representatives, and the current president has expressed support for it.
Before the bill could become law, it would have to pass the Senate. Analysts are uncertain about its chances there.