Supreme Court Rules Against US Citizens Automatically Bringing Foreign Spouses to The Country

By: May Man Published: Jun 25, 2024

The Supreme Court has recently issued several controversial rulings, and now they’ve added another to the list.

The court has decided that U.S. citizens no longer have an automatic right to bring their noncitizen spouses into the country.

Controversial Spark

This decision has sparked significant outrage among many Americans.

The U.S. Supreme Court building.

Pacamah/Wikimedia Commons

The case originated from a Californian woman who struggled to obtain a green card for her husband from El Salvador.

In the Interest of National Security

After a court unexpectedly denied his visa application, the Supreme Court justices voted on the matter, resulting in a 6-3 decision against the visa approval.

The Supreme Court justices seen together in a group portrait in 2022.

Source: Public Domain/Wikimedia Commons

Justice Amy Coney Barrett, speaking for the majority, explained that the decision considered various factors, including national security and foreign policies, rather than focusing solely on family unity.

Biden Opposed

President Joe Biden and his administration opposed the ruling.

A photograph of President Biden's administration and cabinet

Source: Wikimedia

This intensified the debate on U.S. immigration policies and drawn criticism from citizens and immigration rights groups.

How it Started

Sandra Muñoz, a Californian workers’ rights attorney, is the woman at the center of the case.

Sandra Muñoz sitting in front of a computer

Source: @RepLindaSanchez, X

She married Luis Asencio-Cordero, a Salvadoran, in 2010.

Re-entry Denied

Their legal battle began when Asencio-Cordero’s visa application faced numerous obstacles and delays.

Immigration at JFK with people standing in line

Source: Wikimedia

In 2015, he returned to El Salvador for a visa interview, only to be denied re-entry to the U.S. due to alleged potential illegal activities.


Suspected Gang Affiliation

Upon being denied re-entry, no clear reason was provided.

The entrance sign of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services building, featuring the department's seal

Source: Wikimedia Commons

It was later revealed that a consular officer flagged his application because of his tattoos, suspecting gang affiliations.


Explanation Wanted

Asencio-Cordero, however, argued that his tattoos represented his intellect, beliefs, and faith, not gang membership.

An angled shot of a large white stone building with columns.

Source: Phil Roeder/Flickr

In 2022, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Muñoz, recognizing her right to a proper explanation for the visa denial.


Visa Approval Not Guaranteed

However, the Supreme Court overturned this decision.

A tree and the American flag on the side of the Supreme Court building.

Source: Bill Mason/Unsplash

It was stated that Muñoz did not have legal standing in her husband’s application and that noncitizens are not entitled to automatic visa approval through their U.S. citizen spouses.


Impact on Similar Cases

This ruling prevents Muñoz from appealing the decision and is seen as potentially impacting many others in similar situations.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor in conversation

Source: Pete Souza, Wikimedia

Justice Sonia Sotomayor dissented from the majority.


Unjustly Separates Spouses

Sotomayor argued that the administration should provide clear reasons for visa denials and warned that the decision could adversely affect economically vulnerable couples and same-sex marriages.

Woman And Man Sitting on Brown Wooden Bench

Source: Vera Arsic/Pexels

Advocates, including Charles Roth, a supporter of immigrant justice, have criticized the ruling, stating that it unjustly separates spouses without legal recourse or review.


Contrast to Biden’s New Policy

The ruling came as President Joe Biden introduced a new policy aimed at simplifying the residency process for noncitizens married to U.S. nationals.

An image of Joe Biden pictured during an event

Source: Wikimedia

However, the Supreme Court’s verdict will likely limit the number of people who can benefit from this policy, leaving individuals like Muñoz facing continued challenges with immigration.