Can Illegal Aliens Adjust to Legal?

Press Releases

March 31, 2021

IRLI shows Supreme Court that the law allows no such transformation

WASHINGTON—Today the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI) filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the Supreme Court in a case that raises the question of whether Congress intended to reward illegal border-crossing by providing a pathway for illegal aliens to become legal. The plaintiffs, illegal aliens who were granted temporary protected status (TPS) because of a disaster in their home country, now seek to adjust their status to that of lawful permanent resident.

In its brief, IRLI shows that TPS status cannot be used to work such a transformation. Rather, Congress intended to disincentivize illegal immigration, not reward it, and the jump from illegal to legal that plaintiffs claim as their right rests on a strained reading of the statutory scheme that is diametrically opposed to this intent. Though Congress did extend TPS to certain illegal aliens out of humanitarian concern, the TPS program, as its name implies, was meant to be temporary, not a pathway to permanent residence and citizenship.

“The law is, and has to stay, clear that illegal entry into our country will not be tolerated, much less rewarded,” said Dale L. Wilcox, executive director and general counsel of IRLI. “We are seeing right now what happens when deliberate non-enforcement sends the opposite message: crisis and chaos at the border. We hope that, against this backdrop, the Supreme Court sees the wisdom of the law as written and intended, and does not let a humanitarian program become a vehicle for undermining our entire immigration system by creating a magnet for even more illegal immigration.”

The case is Sanchez v. Mayorkas, 20-315 (Supreme Court).

For additional information, contact: Brian Lonergan • 202-232-5590 • blonergan@irli.org

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