On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that immigrants who entered the United States without inspection and were later granted Temporary Protected Status (“TPS”) would not be able to apply to become permanent residents under most circumstances.
Federal law requires immigrants seeking to become permanent residents of the United States (“green card” holders) to have been “inspected and admitted” into the country at a port of entry, such as at an airport or inspection point at a land border with Canada or Mexico. But immigrants who, regardless of their manner of entry, are citizens of countries facing large-scale natural disasters, such as earthquakes or civil war, may be granted TPS and permission to remain in the U.S. The Supreme Court was asked to determine whether a noncitizen who had unlawfully entered the United States but was later granted TPS satisfied the “inspection and admission” requirement. In a unanimous decision, Justice Elena Kagan wrote 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.”
The decision will impact thousands of immigrants who are currently in the United States under TPS, particularly those who are married to American citizens.
The civil detention of immigrants is increasingly becoming an issue across the country. In New Jersey, the practice faces growing opposition from both advocates for immigrant rights and state residents.
In response, a bill sponsored by Assembly Democrats Verlina Reynolds-Jackson, Gordon Johnson, and Linda Carter, which would end the detention of individuals for civil immigration violations, was advanced by the State Assembly’s Law and Public Safety Committee. Should the bill pass, local government agencies and private detention facilities in New Jersey would be prohibited from entering any new agreements or renewing existing contracts with federal immigration authorities to detain people for breaches of immigration laws.
Although the bill has not yet reached a full vote, Essex County – home to Newark, the largest city in the state – has announced it will end its contracts with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to house noncitizens for immigration violations, and other counties have indicated they are also open to that idea.
Meanwhile, across the country in California, a similar fight continues related to the state’s 2019 ban on the operation of private detention facilities, which house more than eight in ten immigrants who are in civil detention throughout the United States.
The federal government filed a challenge to the ban, arguing that the state cannot regulate contracts between the federal government and private companies. The Department of Justice has also argued that the ban is impractical because all ICE detention facilities in California are privately owned.
U.S. District Judge Janis Sammartino ruled that because federal law does not expressly authorize ICE to contract with private prisons, California was not preempted from enacting the ban, although she indicated in her ruling that ICE can still detain immigrants by building new centers or leasing existing privately owned facilities not in use. Despite appeals from advocates, the Biden administration is continuing with its appeal of this decision.
The case is set for oral argument before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals next week. The Norris McLaughlin Immigration Law Blog, “Immigration Matters,” will continue to cover this issue as it develops.