Kagan Delivers 9-0 Immigration Opinion

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  • Source: UncoverDC
  • 09/19/2023

Supreme Court Associate Justice Elena Kagan wrote an opinion that today delivered a unanimous rejection of an immigrant's plea to ignore immigration law. In Sanchez v Mayorkas, the plaintiff sought to create a loophole in immigration law "that would allow thousands of illegal immigrants to become lawful permanent residents," per reporting by PJ media.

Jose Santos Sanchez, a citizen of El Salvador, entered the country illegally in 1997 and 1998, the case stated. His wife, Sonia Gonzalez, also entered twice illegally. They have four children and live in New Jersey, per reporting by the Daily Mail.

Jose Sanchez and Sonia Gonzalez

In 2001, he applied for TPS or Temporary Protected Status. Kagan's opinion states:

“Petitioner Jose Santos Sanchez entered this country unlawfully from El Salvador. Years later, because of unsafe living conditions in that country, the Government granted him Temporary Protected Status (TPS), entitling him to stay and work in the United States for as long as those conditions persist. Sanchez now wishes to become a lawful permanent resident (LPR) of the United States. The question here is whether the conferral of TPS enables him to obtain LPR status despite his unlawful entry. We hold that it does not.”

Temporary Protected Status/USCIS.gov

As stated in the above document, "TPS is a temporary benefit that does not lead to lawful permanent resident status or give any other immigration status..." Sanchez claims that he can obtain LPR status despite his unlawful entry.

Kagan continues, "Sanchez did not enter lawfully and his TPS does not eliminate the effect of that unlawful entry." While the TPS does afford Sanchez, who is applying for permanent residency, per Kagan's opinion, a non-immigrant status which is the status needed "to invoke the LPR process under §1255, it does not aid the recipient in meeting §1255's separate admission requirement. Lawful status and admission are distinct concepts in immigration law and establishing the former does not establish the latter."

Sanchez v Mayorkas

Sanchez v Mayorkas/Kagan Opinion Conclusion

Kagan's conclusion is unequivocal.

Sanchez v Mayorkas/Kagan Opinion/It Is So Ordered

Many Democrats have argued that it is precisely people like Sanchez who can be "admitted" because of his Temporary Protected Status, in part because to return him to El Salvador would be to subject him to harm.

Per the Just Security website, the stakes for the Democrats are high. The link contained in the quote below refers to a 2018 Congressional Research Service paper that provides an overview of Temporary Protected Status :

"The numbers give some sense of the potential stakes in Sanchez v Mayorkas. Approximately 400,000 foreign nationals, from ten countries, live in the United States under TPS. Because of repeated renewals of the TPS designations, over half of this large populace have held TPS for 20 years, over four-fifths for more than 10 years, and all for at least four years. Many tens of thousands have married U.S. citizens, and many more are raising families that include U.S. citizen children."

Temporary Protected Status Stats/2018 Congressional Research Service Paper

TPS by State/2017/Congressional Research Service

Per the Congressional Research paper, the 115th Congress (2017-2019)  introduced various proposals pertaining to TPS.

"Some bills would extend or expand TPS designations for certain countries, 84 prohibit federal funds from being used to implement recent TPS terminations or provide adjustment to LPR status for TPS recipients who have been living in the United States for several years.85Other bills variously seek to limit the program by transferring authority from DHStoCongress to designate foreign states; making unauthorized aliens and members of criminal gangs ineligible; restricting the criteria for designating a foreign state; making TPSrecipients subject to detention and expedited removal; or phasing out the program."

Various states' attorney's general have backed the loophole, as have many Democrats in congress—per the PJ Media reporting, they are: Sens. Mazi Hirono (D-Hawaii), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) joined Reps. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.), Adriano Espaillat (D-N.Y.), Darren Soto (D-Fla.), and Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.)

On April 29, Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote the majority opinion on another important immigration case. The somewhat technical immigration reversed "a lower court’s decision that had limited access to 'cancellation of removal,' an important form of relief for non-citizens in deportation proceedings." according to Scotus Blog. It was an unusual 6-3 opinion because of the judge's who joined Gorsuch in his opinion. He was joined by "the court’s three liberals—Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan—as well as two other conservatives—Justices Clarence Thomas and Amy Coney Barrett. Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote a dissent, which was joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito."

An excellent summary of the Gorsuch opinion can be found below:

Niz v Garland/Gorsuch Decision/Scotus Blog

UncoverDC previously reported, the Biden administration seeks radical reforms of immigration laws. Bicameral legislation called The Bipartisan Border Solutions Act, or S.1358, was introduced earlier this year because of the surge at the border.

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