- Office of Attorney General Maura Healey
Media Contact for AG Healey Co-leads 21 States in Supreme Court Brief Supporting the Rights of Temporary Protected Status Holders
BOSTON — Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey and District of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racine co-led 21 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 that are experiencing humanitarian crises to live and work in the United States. There are more than 17,000 TPS holders living in Massachusetts.
“Thousands of TPS holders have lived in Massachusetts lawfully for decades, raising families, becoming active in their communities, joining the workforce, and contributing to our economy,” AG Healey said. “Denying these immigrants the right to become permanent residents would harm them, their families, our communities, and our economy. We urge the Court to ensure TPS holders have this important opportunity.”
The brief, filed in Sanchez v. Mayorkas, supports 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. In their brief, 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 then 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 Massachusetts, alone, more than 4,300 TPS holders are employed at nursing facilities.
“More than 17,000 Temporary Protected Status holders live in Massachusetts and are unable to return to their home countries due to armed conflicts or natural disasters,” said Eva Millona, President and CEO of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition. “Our communities, businesses and economy rely on their contributions – at least 5,600 TPS holders in Massachusetts are essential workers. We must break down unnecessary barriers for TPS holders that prevent them from benefitting from a family petition to obtain permanent residency. MIRA is grateful for Attorney General Healey and her office's leadership on this issue.”
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.
The brief was led by AG Healey and AG Racine and joined by the attorneys general of California, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington.
The amicus brief was handled in Massachusetts by Civil Rights Division Chief Abby Taylor and Deputy State Solicitor David Kravitz.