The Supreme Court issued a unanimous ruling Monday upholding the government’s ability to veto a green card for foreigners under a temporary protection from deportation program who have entered the country illegally.

The decision is a setback for immigrants under specific protection at least until a legal path to permanent residency is processed in Congress as promised by President Joe Biden.

Until now, the Executive Branch had some leeway to authorize the granting of permanent residency, but Monday’s ruling closes this avenue, so that the Congressional one is the only formula left.

The case is based on the situation of Jose Sanchez and Sonia Gonzales, a Salvadoran couple who entered the United States illegally in the late 1990s after a series of earthquakes in their country and who have four children. The youngest was born in the United States and is a U.S. citizen.

Both have been granted temporary protected status that covers victims of armed conflict and natural disasters and in 2014 applied for permanent residency, but authorities rejected the application on the grounds that they entered the country illegally.

There are an estimated 400,000 foreigners with temporary protected status living in the United States, of which 85,000 have obtained permanent residency.


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