Court Justices Question Constitutionality of Criminalizing Inducing Illegal Immigration

( – Justices of the US Supreme Court on Monday raised concerns about the constitutionality of a federal law that turns inducing illegal immigration into a criminal offense, as they question if this could infringe on Americans’ free speech rights.

According to Politico, the justices heard arguments in the Biden administration’s appeal of a case in California that aimed to annul a decades-old provision in the immigration law. The lower court had deemed the provision too broad, arguing that it could criminalize legitimate speech that the First Amendment of the United States Constitution fully safeguards.

The case in question involved Helaman Hansen, a man who duped immigrants through a phony “adult adoption” scheme and was convicted in the year 2017 of breaking that and other laws. San Francisco’s 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals decided to nullify the law and dismissed his conviction for breaching the provision that bars encouraging or inducing noncitizens to reside or enter the country illegally for financial gain. However, the court upheld his convictions for charges of mail and wire fraud.

Apparently, the six Supreme Court’s conservative justices agreed with the Biden administration that this law doesn’t cover some scenarios that concerned San Francisco’s 9th Circuit, such as advising immigrants in the United States about social services or encouraging them to illegally remain in the country. The Biden administration argued that instead of “general advocacy,” this law only targets soliciting or facilitating any type of unlawful conduct.

On the other hand, the three Supreme Court’s liberal justices agreed with the ruling of the 9th Circuit, was Justice Sonia Sotomayor told Justice Department lawyer Brian Fletcher that the Biden administration has a narrow view of the real applications of the law, which she says it means that the current White House would like the high court to rewrite this statute. She also told the lawyer that “we’re criminalizing words related to immigration.”

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