Tag Archives: Supreme Court

Temporary Protective Status (TPS) does not offer pathway to legal residency.

The Southern Border

The debate over immigration separates Americans into various camps of political thought. The mere mention of the word immigration can cause some people to become highly agitated. There are those who believe that everyone entering the country should be subjected to legal process. This is called lawful entry into the US or legal immigration. Even the most ardent advocates of “migrant’s rights” understand that the Federal government has exclusive jurisdiction over immigration laws and matters.  It stands to reason that the laws should be respected and enforced. This is the hallmark of our form of democracy.

At the opposite end of the political spectrum are those who believe that these laws should be relaxed to allow unfettered entry and immigration into the U.S. Members of this group believe that people who are in the U.S illegally should share the same rights as U.S. Citizens or legal residents. They even champion President Biden’s policy of allowing forced immigration at the U.S.’s southern border with Mexico. Who has not seen the news videos of hundreds of people, including unaccompanied minors, illegally entering the U.S.? The crisis along the border worsens every day.

The Council on Foreign Relations estimates that more than 11 million illegal aliens reside in the U.S. Mexicans make up the largest national group of the undocumented population. However, the uptick in illegal crossing at the Southern border is being driven by Central Americans. Most legal scholars and politicians believe that the surge of unaccompanied minors is due to the  Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2008. This law requires that an accompanied minor who is in the US be given a hearing before being returned to his home country. The law was never intended to protect children who voluntarily and illegally enter the U.S. It does not appear that Congress is going to close this loophole anytime soon. It is a law that we all accept and respect. As a nation, where do we go from here?

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court weighed in the immigration debate. The highest court in the land reminded us that we are a nation of laws and that these laws must be enforced. In the case of Sanchez v. Mayorkas, Secretary of Homeland Security, et el, No 20-315, June 7, 2021, the court in a unanimous decision decided to enforce the nation’s immigration law as written. Plaintiff, a citizen of El Salvador, entered the U.S. illegally in 1997. The government granted  Sanchez Temporary Protected Status in 2001. The granted legal status allowed him to remain and work in the U.S. His TPS status would terminate upon a determination that it was safe for him to return to his country. In her written decision for the Court, Justice Elena Kagan said:

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

Justice Kagan expertly outlines her reasoning in the Court’s opinion . She cites the appropriate statutes and the language therein that required denial of Sanchez’s appeal. In my opinion, the decision in the case was a “no brainer.” It amazes me that some progressive politicians, immigration advocates and, Spanish-speaking T.V. journalists label the decision as “anti-immigrant. The Biden administration takes the position that TPS immigrants do not have a right to apply for green cards base on their TPS status. It should not surprise anyone that former President Trump took this position as well. It is the correct interpretation of the controlling law.

I suggest that you read the Court’s decision in its entirety to appreciate the simplicity of Kagan’s arguments.

Justice Clarence Thomas is Not Above the Law

It appears that Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas  might have crossed the line between acceptable out of court activity and activity that raises  serious legal questions. Judicial historians and experts have always considered Justice Thomas as an enigma on the Supreme Court. There are now those who seek to hold Justice Thomas accountable for his out of court activities. Some experts on the Supreme Court believe that Justice Thomas thinks that he is above the law. Some members of the House of Representatives are calling for an investigation into Judge Thomas’ off the bench activities and how he reports these activities on required disclosure forms.

President George W. Bush nominated Clarence Thomas to the  Supreme Court to fill the seat of Thurgood Marshall who had retired from the bench. Thurgood Marshal had been the high court’s only African-American member. He often sided with the  court’s liberal wing. President Bush was under tremendous political pressure to nominate another African-American to sit on the Supreme Court. I believe that President Bush thought that the nomination of Clarence Thomas would appease Black Americans while at the same time please the conservatives who demanded that the appointment move the Supreme Court more towards the right. Eventually the selection of Clarence Thomas cost President Bush much of his political capital.

Justice Thomas has always been involved in Republican politics. In Missouri he developed and cultivated important political contacts.  He was a successful attorney, which success helped propel  him into higher political circles. Judge Thomas served in the presidential administrations of Ronald Regan and George Bush, who appointment him to serve on the Court of Appeals.

The nomination of Clarence Thomas proved extremely controversial and embarrassing to President Bush. Senate approval of the nomination appeared to be a lock until Anita Hill testified at the Senate Judiciary  Committee hearings. She accused the Judge Thomas of having sexually harassed her during their time together at EEOC. Who did not watch the  nationally televised hearings? I do not believe that Anita Hill or Judge Thomas acquitted themselves well during the hearings. Their performance and testimony was  disgraceful and troublesome at the same time. It was obvious that Judge Thomas had used poor judgment in his dealings with Ms. Hill. In my opinion he did not respect the laws that he was supposedly sworn to uphold. The Senate eventually approved by a close vote of 52-48 Clarence Thomas’ nomination to the Supreme Court. I believe that President Bush should  have withdrawn the nomination in light of Judge Thomas’ apparent unfitness for the post. History is now proving that it was an error to elevate Judge Thomas to the Supreme Court.

Led by House Rules Committee ranking member, Rep. Louise Slaughter  (C-N.Y.), a number of Democratic lawmakers are calling for an investigation of Justice Thomas. In a letter sent to the Judicial Conference (JC) of the United States, the lawmakers requested that it investigate and  learn if Justice Thomas failed to comply with the Ethics in Government Act of 1978. If the JC finds that the Justice Thomas failed to comply with the law, it must refer the matter to the Department of Justice for further investigation or action. The lawmakers’ letter stated that the signatories believed that Judge Clarence Thomas’ failure to show income and gifts was suspicious. It is not clear why the Congresswoman choose this moment to demand an investigation. The request is not related to an official pending Congressional investigation of Justice Thomas. I believe this is an attempt to smear Judge Thomas and, in the process, distract public attention from the nation’s problem. Still; I do not think that this group of legislators believes that their actions will force a change in the Court’s composition. It is interesting to note that the Democratic House leadership did not sign the letter nor have they indicated their support for this initiative.

The legislators in their letter to the JC referred to a June 2011 article that appeared in the New  York Times .The article focused generally on Justice Thomas’ ethics and in particular his relationship with Harlan Crow, a Dallas real estate mogul. Mr. Crow invested millions to buy and restore a cannery in Judge Thomas’ hometown. These transactions were made with the approval and consent of Judge Thomas, who had sentimental feelings towards the cannery.  It is a fact that Mr. Crow has showered  luxurious gifts on both of Thomas and invested money into projects that they support. The Times article specifically questioned Mr. Thomas’  hand in hand relationship with Mr. Crow in the building of “Judge Thomas’ museum.” Though Justice Thomas’ relationship and activities with Crow are questionable, I do not believe that the he has violated any relevant ethical standard that governs Supreme Court Justices.