The United States District Court for the Western District of Washington held that a noncitizen’s grant of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) qualifies as “inspection and admission” into the United States. Under the Immigration and Nationality Act, inspection and admission are eligibility requirements for lawful permanent residence (LPR). Jesus Ramirez, the plaintiff in Ramirez v Dougherty, was granted TPS in 2001 following the devastating earthquake in El Salvador, his home country, and has renewed this status ever since. He now seeks to become an LPR on the basis of his marriage to a United States citizen.
The court based its decision on the language of the TPS statute. However, the court also noted important policy reasons supporting its interpretation, stressing that Mr. Ramirez had been in the United States for approximately fifteen years, had established roots here, and “has waited his turn for an independent, legal, and legitimate pathway to citizenship, through the immediate relative visa application.” Relying on a decision from the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, the court found that the government’s solution – which would require Mr. Ramirez to leave the country, be readmitted, and then go through the immigration process all over again – was a “waste of energy, time, government resources, and will have negative effects on his family.”