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Precedent Decision in Ninth Circuit Opens a Path for Recipients of TPS to Adjust Status

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On March 31st, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a precedent decision, in Ramirez v. Brown, that will open the door for undocumented immigrants with Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to adjust their status to that of a lawful permanent resident. Specifically, the Court held that a grant of TPS constitutes an admission for purposes of adjustment of status under INA § 245(a).

In Ramirez v. Brown, a migrant from El Salvador, entered the U.S. without inspection in 1999 and obtained and maintained TPS status since 2001. He later married a U.S. citizen in 2012 and applied to adjust status to become a Lawful Permanent Resident. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) denied his adjustment application, alleging that because he entered without inspection, he had not been “admitted or paroled” as is required to adjust status.  The migrant filed suit in the Western District of Washington claiming that DHS had violated the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) in NOT allowing a migrant with TPS to adjust status. The district court ruled in favor of the migrant and the DHS appealed. The Ninth Circuit upheld the district court’s favorable decision.

The Ninth Circuit declared that the language of the statute (8 U.S.C. §1254a(f)(4)) is clear in allowing TPS recipients to adjust their status. Per the Court’s reasoning, not only is the statute itself clear on its face, but its wording is also consistent with the wording in the statutes regarding Adjustment of Status. As such, Congress had intended this result. The Court also found that a migrant who is granted TPS undergoes the same rigorous inspection as an individual who enters through a Port of Entry and should therefore, be deemed admitted.

The ruling is significant because it tilts the debate between the Sixth and Eleventh Circuits in favor of TPS recipients as being eligible to adjust status to that of a Lawful Permanent Resident. Furthermore, the decision conducts a thorough statutory analysis of its reasoning; something that had not been done before. Since the circuits courts are divided on the issue, this case could likely reach the Supreme Court.

 

To view the decision, please click here:

Ramirez v. Brown

To view the relevant statutes, please click below:

8 U.S.C.§ 1254a: Temporary Protected Status

8 U.S.C. § 1255: Adjustment of Status of nonimmigrant to that of person admitted for permanent residence

8 U.S.C.§ 1258: Change of nonimmigrant classification

 

 

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