Is SCOTUS' rule against immigrants in temporary status right?
- Monday, March 8, 2021, President Biden granted “temporary protected status” to Venezuelans in the United States, amounting to around 320,000 people. Those individuals would be able to apply to live in the US for 18 months.
- On Monday, June 7, 2021, the Supreme Court voted against illegal Temporary Protected Status from becoming permanent residents in the United States.
- Individuals looking to seek TPS “must apply” within the 180-day registration period as of March 8, 2021.
- The US grants TPS to “over 400,000 foreign nationals” from countries like El Salvador, Honduras, Hait, Nepal, Syria, and five other countries.
The Supreme Court's decision to deny immigrants currently in the United States under temporary protected status a path to residency hangs on a flimsy technicality. In writing the court's unanimous opinion, Justice Elena Kagan explained there is 'no doubt' the plaintiffs entered the United States unlawfully, thus barring them from applying for permanent residency. This technical distinction rings false as Jose Sanchez and Sonia Gonzales, who came to America following a number of earthquakes in their native El Salvador, applied for and received temporary protective status through legal channels. This status not only allows them into the country but also provides protection from deportation under many circumstances. Having the court describe this sort of entry as illegal makes no sense.
There are approximately four hundred thousand individuals in the United States on temporary protective status. Like those appearing before the Supreme Court, many of these individuals have been in the United States for decades. They have children who are American citizens. They work, contribute to their communities and society at large. It is wrong for SCOTUS to ignore how embedded in American life these individuals are in favor of a narrow technical reading of the law.
The court seems to be signaling that it wants the legislative branch to create a permanent fix to this problem. While this is needed and will be the ultimate solution in the future, the court is wrong to use these people as leverage to motivate the other branches of government to act. SCOTUS should have recognized the legal entries made under trying and distressing situations, as well as the essential humanity of these immigrants.
Those with temporary status seeking a green card should have entered the country legally in the first place. Illegally entering the United States is not only contrary to existing law, but it also shows a lack of respect for the way our country does things. Lawbreakers shouldn't be granted the same legal protections or given the same benefits in the same way as those who entered legally. Temporary status individuals who are upset that they aren't eligible for a green card under this new ruling need to remember that temporary status isn't a means to get around the proper process for becoming a citizen- it's a gift that allows them to live and work here temporarily.
Seeking refuge doesn't mean our laws don't matter or disappear. Many of the immigrants here who have temporary status were seeking refuge, and while that need is essential, it is also important to remember that laws are still laws, and they can't be ignored simply because it's convenient.
Temporary protected status is already a gift, and it isn't the same as getting a green card. The green card process is very extensive, but the result is ten years of validity as a legal resident in the United States. Temporary status is not the same as having a green card, and it shouldn't be treated as a shortcut to becoming a legal citizen. Many of the immigrants in the US who have temporary status got it after entering the country illegally. Not deporting them and providing them with that temporary status was already a reprieve.
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