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Supreme Court Rules Illegal Immigrants Cannot Apply for Green Card Despite Being Granted Asylum

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A woman walks past the Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C., May 17, 2021. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

The Supreme Court ruled unanimously on Monday that recipients of temporary protected status (TPS) who entered the U.S. illegally are not eligible to apply for a green card to remain in the U.S. permanently.

The ruling would apply to some of the 400,000 immigrants who have been granted TPS, allowing them to stay in the U.S. because of unsafe conditions or crises in their native countries. 

However, in order to acquire lawful permanent resident status an individual must have been “inspected and admitted or paroled into the United States.”

While Jose Santos Sanchez, who entered the country illegally in 1997, argued in Sanchez v. Mayorkas that having been granted TPS in 2001 meant he met the requirement, Justice Elena Kagan said on behalf of the Court that the law was clear that it did not.  

“Sanchez was not lawfully admitted, and his TPS does not alter that fact,” she wrote. “He therefore cannot become a permanent resident of this country.”

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