Supreme Court unanimously rules against illegal immigrants seeking permanent residence: ‘They broke the law’

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WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Supreme Court issued a critical ruling that cleared up some ambiguity regarding illegal immigrants in the country that happen to be afforded a Temporary Protected Status (TPS). 

The court ruled, unanimously, that illegal immigrants that are currently covered under a TPS are not eligible for Lawful Permanent Resident status within the country.

 The ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court came on June 7th in a 9-0 decision, with Justice Elena Kagan writing in the court’s opinion that a “TPS recipient who entered the United States unlawfully is not eligible…for [lawful permanent resident] status merely by dint of his TPS.”

According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, a TPS is defined as follows

“The secretary of Homeland Security may designate a foreign country for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) due to conditions in the country that temporarily prevent its nationals from returning safely, or in certain circumstances, where the country is unable to handle the return of its nationals adequately.”

Whether someone came to the United States legally under a visa, or illegally, a TPS designation means that repatriation to said country is on hold until whatever root issue of the TPS designation is resolved. 

But this recent ruling from the SCOTUS stemmed from an illegal immigrant who was trying to leverage their provided TPS in an effort to obtain permanent residence in the United States. 

Back in 1997, Jose Santos Sanchez – an El Salvador national – illegally entered the United States. Then in 2001, Sanchez was able to secure a TPS due to DHS having El Salvador listed under the TPS designation. 

In 2014, Sanchez had applied to become a Lawful Permanent Residence, however, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services denied Sanchez’s application due to him having illegally entered the country. 

Sanchez later challenged the denied green card in a federal district court and wound up winning.

But the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit later reversed the lower court’s decision, once again noting that Sanchez wasn’t eligible for permanent residence due to having illegally entered the country. 

When the case landed in the hands of the SCOTUS, a unanimous ruling reaffirmed the notion that simply having a TPS designation doesn’t negate a prior criminal offense of illegal entry into the country. 

Justice Kagan’s opinion delved into the specifics of a TPS status and how they relate to illegal immigrants: 

“The question here is whether the conferral of TPS enables him to obtain [lawful permanent resident] status despite his unlawful entry. We hold that it does not.”

From what Justice Kagan wrote in the court’s opinion, there is simply nothing within a TPS designation that grants a pathway to citizenship to illegal immigrants:

“There is no dispute that Sanchez ‘entered the United States in the late 1990s unlawfully, without inspection.’ But as earlier described, §1255 requires a [lawful permanent resident] applicant like Sanchez to have entered the country ‘lawful,’ with ‘inspection’ — that is, to have been admitted.

Indeed, §1255 imposes an admission requirement twice over. Its principal provision states that an applicant for [lawful permanent resident] status must have been ‘inspected and admitted or paroled into the United States.'”

“And another provision says that a person who has worked without authorization in the country — as Sanchez did for several years — may become a [lawful permanent resident] only if his presence in the United States is ‘pursuant to a lawful admission.’ Sanchez has never claimed that he can, without aid from the TPS provision, satisfy those demands for admission.

A straightforward application of §1255 thus supports the Government’s decision to deny him [lawful permanent resident] status.”

“And nothing in the conferral of TPS changes that result.”

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Earlier in June, we at Law Enforcement Today shared another report regarding a key ruling by the SCOTUS with respect to immigration. 

Here’s that Previous report. 

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WASHINGTON, DC – The Supreme Court on June 1st set aside a “deemed-true-or-credible” rule long used by the Ninth Circuit Court in California, that presumed immigrants seeking asylum were telling the truth unless an immigration judge had made an “explicit” finding that they were not credible.

In a unanimous 9-0 decision, the court found that the “ deemed-true-or-credible” rule “cannot be reconciled” with existing law set by Congress. According to statute, immigration judges have the authority to consider often conflicting accounts and determine if an applicant is entitled to asylum.

Justice Neil M. Gorsuch wrote in the decision of Garland vs. Dai:

“For many years, and over many dissents, the 9th Circuit has proceeded on the view that, “In the absence of an explicit adverse credibility finding (by the agency), we must assume that [the immigrant’s] factual contentions are true’ or at least credible”

The Trump-appointed judge said this rule was not justified and gave immigrants the benefit of the doubt in close cases. “Congress has carefully circumscribed judicial review” of immigration decisions, he added.

Judge Gorsuch blasted the Ninth Circuit Court for making the ruling against precedent and law:

“The Ninth Circuit’s rule has no proper place in a reviewing court’s analysis. Congress has carefully circumscribed judicial review of BIA (Board of Immigration Appeals) decisions. When it comes to questions of fact… the INA (Immigration and Nationality Act) provides that a reviewing court must accept ‘administrative findings’ as ‘conclusive unless any reasonable adjudicator would be compelled to conclude to the contrary.” This is a ‘highly deferential’ standard.’

“Nothing in the INA contemplates anything like the embellishment the Ninth Circuit has adopted. And it is long since settled that a reviewing court is ‘generally not free to impose’ additional judge-made procedural requirements on agencies that Congress has not prescribed and the Constitution does not compel”

The ruling enveloped two cases involving foreign nationals. Cesar Alcaraz-Enriquez and Ming Dai, who appealed immigration judge (IJ) determinations regarding their eligibility for various forms of immigration relief.

Alcaraz-Enriquez is a Mexican national who was detained by immigration authorities when he attempted to enter the United States illegally. He sought asylum on the grounds that his life and freedom would be threatened in Mexico.

The IJ held that he was ineligible for relief under the law, excluding from asylum noncitizens who have “been convicted by a final judgment of a particularly serious crime.”

According to a probation report entered in the lower court record, Alcaraz-Enriquez pleaded no contest in California to inflicting corporal injury on a spouse or cohabitant and was sentenced to two years in prison.

Alcaraz-Enriquez locked his 17-year-old girlfriend in his bedroom, dragged her when she attempted to escape, threatened to kill her, and forced her to have sex with him. He later allowed her to leave but dragged her outside and kicked her down a set of stairs.

The IJ weighed Alcaraz-Enriquez’s own testimony against conflicting evidence in a probation report to find that a California conviction for domestic violence was a “particularly serious crime.”

Ming Dai is a Chinese national who sought asylum in the United States after entering the country on a tourist visa. Ming Dai sought relief as a “refugee”, as someone “unable or unwilling” to return to China “because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution … for failure or refusal to undergo (involuntary sterilization) or for other resistance to a coercive population control program.”

The IJ weighed Ming Dai’s own testimony against conflicting evidence about his wife and daughter’s voluntary travel between the United States and China to hold that he was not a “refugee” within the meaning of the statute.

The BIA affirmed the decisions made by the lower courts. Both cases were then appealed to the Ninth Circuit Court.

The Ninth Circuit, applying its longstanding “deemed-true-or-credible” rule and reversed the decision. The Ninth Circuit held that the BIA was required to assume that Alcaraz-Enriquez and Dai’s “factual contentions are true” absent explicit adverse credibility findings.

The Supreme Court overruled the Ninth Circuit and blasted its continual use of the “deemed-true-or-credible” standard. In the decision, Gorsuch wrote:

“Reviewing courts have no need for a presumption of credibility one way or the other because they do not make credibility determinations. Instead, courts deferentially review the agency’s fact determinations.

“The IJ—who actually observes the witness—is best positioned to assess the applicant’s credibility in the first instance. The credibility presumption encourages the IJ to make specific findings about credibility. And then the BIA—which has experience with the sort of facts that recur in immigration cases and the ability to directly override the IJ’s factfindings—is well positioned to apply the credibility presumption if the IJ has not made an explicit finding.”

The Supreme Court vacated the Ninth Circuit Court’s ruling and remanded the cases back to the lower courts for “further proceedings consistent with this opinion.”

 In the decision, Judge Gorsuch wrote the rationale for vacating the rulings:

“The Ninth Circuit erred by treating credibility as dispositive of both persuasiveness and legal sufficiency in these cases. Even setting aside the credibility of Mr. Alcaraz-Enriquez or Mr. Dai, perhaps the BIA did not find their evidence persuasive or sufficient to meet their burden on essential questions. In Mr. Alcaraz-Enriquez’s case, the probation report may have outweighed his testimony.

“Similarly, in Mr. Dai’s case, his later admissions about his family’s voluntary return and his decision to stay in this country for economic reasons may have outweighed his initial testimony about his past and feared future persecution.

“Faced with conflicting evidence, it seems likely that a reasonable adjudicator could find the unfavorable account more persuasive than the favorable version in both cases.”

Judge Gorsuch also chastised the Ninth Circuit Court once again:

“The Ninth Circuit failed to consider that the BIA may have implicitly rebutted the presumption of credibility.

The Ninth Circuit also erroneously allowed credibility to operate as a trump card, foreclosing the possibility that even credible testimony may be outweighed by other more persuasive evidence or be insufficient to satisfy the burden of proof.

“Nor can we affirm the Ninth Circuit’s judgments on alternative grounds. The Ninth Circuit failed to consider that the BIA may have implicitly rebutted the presumption of credibility.

The Ninth Circuit also erroneously allowed credibility to operate as a trump card, foreclosing the possibility that even credible testimony may be outweighed by other more persuasive evidence or be insufficient to satisfy the burden of proof.”

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