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AG Nessel Joins Coalition in Supreme Court Briefing Supporting the Rights of Temporary Protected Status Holders

LANSING – Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel joined a coalition of attorneys general in filing a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in support of the right of foreign nationals living in the United States under a Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designation to become permanent residents when they meet statutory requirements. TPS allows foreign nationals from countries experiencing humanitarian crises to live and work in the United States. 

“Michigan is home to more than 1,500 people with Temporary Protected Status who came here seeking safety and a better life for themselves and their families,” Nessel said. “TPS holders have been integral members of our communities for years and deserve a pathway to lawful permanent resident status and eventually citizenship. I join my colleagues in urging the court to ensure TPS holders have this opportunity.” 

In their brief, filed Monday in Sanchez v. Mayorkas, the attorneys general support a married couple from El Salvador seeking to adjust their immigration status from TPS to lawful permanent residence. The couple sued to overturn United States Citizenship and Immigration Services’ (USCIS) denial of their application. The case pending before the Supreme Court seeks to overturn the Third Circuit’s determination that TPS holders who entered the country without being inspected and admitted at the time of their entry – which is the vast majority of TPS holders – are categorically barred from adjusting their status to permanent residency.  

The attorneys general argue that the court should reject the Third Circuit’s reading of federal law as contrary to Congress’ intent when crafting it, which was that TPS holders should have a ready path to permanent residency and eventually citizenship. The attorneys general specifically argue that TPS holders play critical roles in their states, that they are integral members of their communities, and that they greatly contribute to states’ economies. 

According to the brief, 400,000 TPS holders live in the United States and play crucial social and economic roles, as many have built their families, careers and communities here. TPS holders pay billions of dollars in state, federal and local taxes, spend their incomes locally, own homes, and have families that often include children and spouses who are citizens of this country. Thousands of TPS holders are frontline workers playing a critical role combating the COVID-19 pandemic, and others work in restaurants, grocery stores, farming, agriculture and food manufacturing. Many TPS holders work in childcare; many also work as home health and personal care aides, nursing assistants, orderlies or psychiatric aides. In Michigan, there are more than 1,500 TPS holders.  

TPS holders contribute greatly to state economies. Without their employment, the attorneys general argue that the United States would lose more than $160 billion in gross domestic product and $6.9 billion in Social Security and Medicare contributions, in addition to billions of dollars in taxes. The country’s employers would also lose nearly $1 billion in turnover costs.   

The brief states that every six to 18 months, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security decides whether to terminate TPS designations. Without a viable path to permanent residency status, many TPS holders live in constant fear of losing their protected status and being uprooted from their homes and families in the United States. The attorneys general argue that denying TPS holders the right to adjust their status to permanent residency would greatly harm these foreign nationals by forcing them to leave their jobs and families to return to unsafe home countries and apply for permanent residency status, a process that can take years or decades.  

Joining Attorney General Nessel in filing this brief are the attorneys general of California, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington.  

Click here to view a copy of the brief