Major Updates for TPS Holders and more Immigration News

Immigration News & Updates for TPS Holders

TPS Holders

The Supreme Court has declared that TPS holders that entered illegally have no right to get a green card from inside the U.S., another one of Trump’s policies has been officially terminated, and families arriving at the southern border will have their cases fast-tracked in immigration court. 

These are the main topics we’re going to talk about in this article.


Certain TPS Holders Not Eligible for Green Card

On Monday, June 7th, the Supreme Court decided that TPS holders that entered the US illegally are not eligible to get a green card from inside the U.S.  

Just two weeks ago, I did a video talking about the TPS, what it is, how you apply for it, and more, so if you have doubts about it, I encourage you to give it a look. I’m sure it can solve a lot of the doubts you may have. 

Link to the video: TPS para Venezolanos 

In that video, I mentioned some of the alternatives you could pursue if you lose your TPS, but with this new decision, there would be even more things to consider for getting your legal status. This ruling, which was passed on a 9-0 decision, is a huge blow to hundreds of thousands of immigrants that are right now in the US, and it’s definitely something that you need to take into consideration if you are a TPS holder.


What the Immigration Court Decided

So, let’s go into detail about what the court decided here: First of all, this decision means that immigrants under a TPS are still protected from deportation and can obtain a work permit, but it does not give them a right to lawful permanent status unless they are here “pursuant to a lawful admission.” 

What this means is that TPS recipients who entered the county legally as students or tourists and stayed under TPS may obtain a green card, but on the other hand, if you entered illegally, you will not be eligible for a green card inside the U.S. 

This whole case began when Jose Sanchez and his wife, Sonia Gonzalez, applied for permanent status after being TPS holders but were denied and decided to sue. They entered the US unlawfully from El Salvador back 1990s, and after the 2001 earthquakes devasted El Salvador, they were granted the Temporary Protected Status. They established lives and careers here in New Jersey and had four sons, but were still denied their green cards


The Two Parts of Immigration Law

To justify this, Justice Elena Kagan said that: “Because a grant of TPS does not come with a ticket of admission, it does not eliminate the disqualifying effect of an unlawful entry.”  She mentioned that there are two parts of the immigration laws that operate on separate tracks.

One part allows some people who have entered the country lawfully to apply for green cards. The other part allows immigrants, whether they entered the country lawfully or not, to apply for TPS.

What this means is that someone can be admitted but not in lawful status. For example, think of a person who entered the US legally with a Student Visa but stayed in the country long past graduation. 

On the other hand, you can be in lawful status but not admitted — in this case, think of someone who entered the country unlawfully but then received asylum

That is the situation Mr. Sanchez is in, except that he received the TPS instead of asylum. The case puts an end to a split among circuit courts that allowed immigrants living in some states to get green cards in the last few years, while those with identical circumstances in other states could not.


A Path to Green Card for TPS Holders

The U.S. Court of Appeals in the 6th, 8th and 9th circuits had held that a grant of TPS counts as a legal admission to the country, allowing immigrants with temporary status to become permanent residents when sponsored by family members or employers without having to leave the country.

This gave TPS holders in those states with employers willing to sponsor them a path to a green card. It also relieved TPS holders with American spouses from having to travel abroad and reenter the country to become permanent residents.


How this Court Decision TPS Recipients

At the end of the day, this decision does not only affect Mr. Sanchez, but will impact the thousands of TPS recipients that entered without authorization, and thus were not originally “admitted,” to become permanent residents, even after living in the U.S. under the temporary status for years or even decades.

This doesn’t mean that if you entered illegally, got TPS, you now can’t get a Green Card.  It just means you will need to travel outside the U.S. and consular process. That means you might need a waiver.  It means you may need to remove an order of removal.  It means your case will take longer, will cost more money, and will be harder to achieve.   

If you are a TPS holder and want to know more about your specific situation and what to do about it, what paths can be followed to get you your green card, please contact us. Every case is different, and if there is something we could do to help you, we will find it together.


US Formally Ends Trump’s ‘Remain in Mexico’ Asylum Policy

Let’s move on with our second topic, and that’s the decision to formally end the “Remain in Mexico” policy that was introduced by President Trump.

As you may remember, under this policy, migrants had to wait for their asylum court hearings in Mexican border cities rather than in the US. This forced tens of thousands of Central American asylum seekers to wait in Mexico without pretty much any support or assistance, putting them in dangerous cities and to the mercy of traffickers and cartels.

Under this policy, more than 69,000 asylum seekers were sent back to cities along the border, but shortly after President Biden took office, he paused it, and finally, on June 1st, a memorandum was sent announcing the end of this policy formally.


Biden’s Decision Met With Criticism From Republicans

As you would expect, this news was taken with criticism from Republicans, arguing that this, along with other of the Trump immigration policies that President Biden has ended, has encouraged an increase in migrant arrivals at the US-Mexico border in recent months. 

But according to Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on the memo released by the DHS, the program did not “adequately or sustainably enhance border management,” noting that border arrests increased at times while the policy remained in place.


US Allowed the First Group of Migrants to Enter last February

On February 19, the US allowed the first group to enter the US, after partnering with international refugee organizations, including the UN refugee agency UNHCR and the International Organization for Migration (IOM), in order to identify and process the most vulnerable cases. The goal was to allow asylum seekers to enter the US in small groups and include testing for COVID-19 in Mexico.

Many of those considered priority lived in the makeshift tent camp in Matamoros, located across from Brownsville, Texas. The tent’s existence and its conditions became one of the symbols of Trump’s anti-immigration stance.

From the very beginning, this policy generated a lot of controversy from Immigrant and Human Rights organizations, and with its conclusion, democrats and groups like Amnesty International are applauding the decision to end it.

The next step from here, according to Secretary Mayorkas, is a new docket announced on immigration court on Friday, June 4th, that aims to decide asylum cases at the border within 300 days. 


US to Expedite Immigration Cases of Families at Southern Border

A few weeks ago, the Biden administration informed that it was easing pandemic-related restrictions on asylum seekers. And now, they have announced that families arriving at the U.S. border with Mexico will have their cases fast-tracked in immigration court.

Immigration judges would generally decide these cases within 300 days of an initial hearing in 10 cities, including New York, Los Angeles, and border communities such as El Paso, Texas, and San Diego.

This sounds good, but remember, this isn’t the first time that U.S. officials expedited the immigration cases of recent entries.  Both Trump and Obama tried to do this, and yet these cases are incredibly backlogged.


Dedicated Docket for Expedited Immigration Cases

Biden’s plan is described as a ‘dedicated docket’ while allowing judges to grant continuances ‘for a good cause,’ as needed.  They call the 300-day timeline “an internal goal.” So, we’ll just have to wait and see how capable they really are to achieve this goal.

President Biden has been under increasing pressure to remove the pandemic-related restrictions for immigrants at the border, most of them placed by Trump back in March 2020.  Initially, this resulted in allowing 250 people a day through border crossings.


Advocates Complain of Unfair Dockets

Immigrant advocates are complaining that the dockets created to speed asylum-seekers through the courts isn’t fair and, in the past, have created delays for other migrants who have waited years for their cases to be heard.

This is a very difficult situation to deal with. According to official data, US Border Patrol agents had more than 170,000 ‘encounters’ in April, representing the highest total since March 2001. And about 50,000 of these were with people traveling in families.

Taking all of this into consideration, although this proposal gives families at the border a higher priority than other cases, in an immigration court system that has about 1.3 million pending cases, it is hard to imagine that the 300 days for case completion will be possible.


Most Families Were Issued Deportation Orders

Initially, the expedited court docket will only be available to families that are apprehended by Customs and Border Protection at ports of entry starting May 28 who qualify for the alternatives to detention program, which logs people into the immigration system without keeping them detained. Under the Trump administration, more than 90% of the cases that fell into the family unit dockets were given deportation orders.

According to Aaron Reichlin-Melnick, policy counsel at American Immigration Council, the new plan gives judges more discretion to grant continuances in families’ cases, but he’s concerned because many asylum-seekers placed in these special dockets during the last two administrations wound up representing themselves in court, and that resulted in a very high rate of deportations.


Rocket Docket May Increase Deportation Rate

The main risk here is that by creating a “rocket docket,” there is a high chance of creating rushed justice, which will result in a high deportation rate of otherwise approvable families.

This docket is planned to be introduced at the following cities: 

  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • Los Angeles
  • San Diego
  • El Paso
  • Denver 
  • Detroit
  • Miami 
  • Newark
  • San Francisco
  • Seattle

These cities were selected, among other things, because they have immigration courts with “established communities of legal services providers and available judges to handle the cases.”


Resolving Immigration Cases in 300 Days

First, when we think of the idea of the asylum case being resolved in less than 300 days, but it takes about 2 to 4 months to get a work permit, you will only have about 150 to 240 to work and save money for legal representation. This can result in a lot of people not being able to afford a lawyer to help them and be by their side in court. So, there is a major issue right there. 

Second, because of the 300-day target, there are a lot of courts that won’t be able to handle the load and will end up with judges overwhelmed.

Lastly, the current delay in the immigration courts isn’t acceptable.  It is a good step to help some families, but what the system needs is a complete overhaul.  These suggestions only help one group, families who recently entered the U.S., at the expense of those who have been here longer. 


Call A New Jersey Immigration Lawyer Today!

If you want to know more about your immigration concerns and what to do about them, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our immigration attorney in Eatontown, NJ, at Andres Mejer Law. Every case is different, and if we can’t help you, we won’t take your money. Call us today to schedule a consultation and get started.

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