Immigration Weekly Round-Up: New Jersey Governor Considers Pandemic Relief for Undocumented Residents; Supreme Court Wary of Green Cards for Immigrants with TPS; Mexican President Discusses U.S. Visas for Work on Reforestation

New Jersey to Consider Pandemic Relief for Undocumented Immigrants

Governor Phil Murphy of New Jersey has indicated he is reviewing and considering a plan to allocate approximately $40 million in federal funding to immigrants in New Jersey for relief related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The money would be distributed in one-time payments.

Immigrant advocacy groups immediately denounced the $40 million as far too low; the campaign strategist for the Immigrant Alliance for Justice called it “insulting,” as it will only come “out to $96 per person.” These disagreements resulted in a very contentious call between Gov. Murphy and representatives from several of these groups. This tension comes amidst a hunger strike currently taking place in Newark to protest the lack of pandemic relief stimulus funding for undocumented residents.

Gov. Murphy did not comment on the specifics of the call, simply stating that “We’re trying to find legislative or other means by which we can get money to the undocumented population.” The Norris McLaughlin Immigration Law Blog, “Immigration Matters,” will continue to follow this story as it develops.

U.S. Supreme Court Skeptical of Eligibility for Permanent Residence for Some TPS Holders

This week, several justices on the U.S. Supreme Court seemed skeptical of whether immigrants who were granted Temporary Protected Status (TPS) in the United States would become eligible to apply for a green card to remain in the United States permanently.

Generally, for someone to be sponsored for permanent residence by a family member while residing in the United States, the immigrant must have been lawfully inspected and admitted into the country at a port of entry, such as at an airport, on a ship, or at designated points on the U.S. land borders with Mexico and Canada. The individuals who brought the lawsuit currently pending before the Court – two El Salvador citizens who have New Jersey residents for over 20 years – were granted TPS in the U.S. following the 2001 earthquakes in Central America that devastated millions of lives. The two residents argued that in granting their applications for TPS, the Department of Homeland Security had “admitted” them into the country, thus making them eligible for green cards.

Six of the Justices – John Roberts, Clarence Thomas, Elena Kagan, Brett Kavanaugh, Stephen Breyer, and Samuel Alito – were skeptical of the immigrants’ arguments, concerned that permitting TPS holders to apply for a green card would subvert the meaning of the term “admission.” Conversely, Justice Sotomayor agreed that a grant of TPS would constitute an admission, although she appeared to be alone in this opinion.

Given that approximately 400,000 people in the U.S. have TPS, the Norris McLaughlin Immigration Law Blog, “Immigration Matters,” will continue to monitor this case closely as it develops.

Mexico’s President Suggests U.S. Visas for Mexicans Working on Large Environmental Project

President Andres Manuel Lopez Obredor of Mexico has asked President Biden to consider visas for Mexican citizens who work on a massive reforestation project in southern Mexico, which Lopez hopes to expand to Central America.

At a virtual summit for the leaders of 40 countries, Lopez suggested that those who participate in the project – dubbed “Sembrando Vida,” or “Sowing Life” – be permitted to obtain short-term work permits in the United States, with a pathway set up for legal permanent residency and U.S. citizenship. Lopez stated that the “migratory phenomenon, as we all know, is not resolved with coercive measures, but with justice and wellbeing.”

While President Biden did speak at the summit, neither he nor his administration commented on any potential visa program.

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National Law Review, Volumess XI, Number 113