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U.S. Supreme Court Rules No Green Cards For Temporary Protection Status Holders Who Entered Unlawfully

A closeup photo of a social security card and permanent resident card lying on an American flag.
Temporary Protection Status won't grant a pathway to residency for those who entered the U.S. unlawfully.

The U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled Monday thattemporary protected status, or TPS, does not provide a pathway to residency if holders entered the country unlawfully.

The decision stemmed from a case involving a man from El Salvador who entered the U.S. in 1997 without “inspection and authorization by an immigration officer.” He then received protective status under the program in 2001 when El Salvador was hit with a series of earthquakes.

TPS allows people from countries experiencing ongoing war or natural disasters to stay in the U.S. for a period of time. It also gives them the ability to work legally and avoid deportation.

Currently, only citizens from 12 countries are eligible for TPS.

Jesler Molina, director of Venezuelan Alliance of Utah, said news of the decision caused concerns within the Venezuelan community — one of the countries that recently received a renewal for the program. Molina said there has been a lot of misinformation about how it affects the Venezuelan community.

“We have been telling our community, this doesn't affect you at all because this is something that was already there even before you applied,” Molina said.

He said it does, however, have a potential impact for other communities like Salvadorans or Haitians who have been in the program longer.

Kendall Moriarty, an immigration lawyer in West Jordan, said the court's decision didn’t change anything in Utah except reaffirming the existing standard that does not recognize TPS as a pathway to residency.

“For us here in Utah, we were kind of like, ‘Yeah, of course, that's what it is,’” Moriarty said. “But for other people that will — for other jurisdictions — that will be a huge, huge change in policy.”

Moriarty said previous to the SCOTUS decision, other courts had come down on the other side of the question, which meant they did see TPS as a way to permanent status.
Molina said he and his organization are hoping the American Dream and Promise Act of 2021 can provide TPS holders and other immigrants a pathway to citizenship.

Ivana is a general assignment reporter
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