HARLINGEN, Texas (KVEO) — A new ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court makes obtaining permanent residency for certain immigrants harder.
According to the American immigration council, an estimated 320,000 people in the country have Temporary Protected Status — TPS.
Congress established TPS in 1990 to allow individuals fleeing their country for humanitarian reasons to stay in the United States. If someone from a TPS designated country met the requirements, they would be protected regardless of how they entered the country.
“Say your country is in turmoil, whether there’s a hurricane or civil war, the U.S. will classify you and your country and allow you to have a TPS status,” McAllen Attorney Dallas Gutierrez said. “That means you’re allowed to come into the country legally, and you can get classified as a TPS status, even if you don’t have documents.”
There are currently 12 countries designated by the U.S. to which residents are eligible for TPS, including El Salvador, Nicaragua and Venezuela. With this protection, individuals are able to get a work permit, stay of deportation and apply for a green card.
However, on Monday, June 7, the high court issued a unanimous ruling declaring individuals who obtained TPS after entering the country illegally will no longer be eligible for permanent residency.
Gutierrez said before the ruling those who qualify would have the opportunity to adjust through an immediate relative, that’s no longer the case.
“Before the ruling, some states were allowing you to adjust if you were married to someone who was a citizen if your parents were a citizen, but right now it’s not looking like even if that’s the case you’ll be able to adjust,” he said.
He adds there has been some loosening of immigration policies under the Biden administration, but due to the Supreme Court’s conservative majority, an overturn of the ruling is not likely.
While becoming a permanent U.S. resident through TPS won’t be an option, Gutierrez said there are still benefits to having this status.
“It’s still good to have Temporary Protected Status because you can still get the work permit,” Gutierrez said. “You can still be here; you just won’t be able to adjust as easily — or at all — but you still will have some sort of status rather than just be undocumented.”
Congress is also considering a bill that would allow those with TPS and other immigration protections — including DACA — to become green cardholders. The legislation passed the U.S. House but remains stuck in the Senate.
Gutierrez encourages anyone with TPS status to meet with an immigration attorney to discuss their options in moving forward with a residency application.