Tuesday, April 4, 2023

Supreme Court hears free-speech challenge to federal ban on encouraging illegal immigration; Justices poised to uphold federal ban on encouraging illegal immigration

Supreme Court hears free-speech challenge to federal ban on encouraging illegal immigration:
The Supreme Court on Monday grappled with the scope of the federal crime involving the encouragement of illegal immigration and whether it violates the First Amendment.
The Justice Department urged the high court to reverse a lower court decision and uphold the crime as constitutional, arguing the free-speech concerns are misplaced because they assume an erroneous, broader reading of the law as a premise.
Whether that argument holds up will in part depend on if the justices agree with the government’s narrower view.
Principal Deputy Solicitor General Brian Fletcher, representing the Biden administration, argued the “encourages or induces” language in the law only establishes a crime when the defendant actually facilitates illegal immigration. Fletcher said the terms are synonymous to crimes of “aiding and abetting” or “soliciting,” as opposed to making a benign statement.
That argument raised piercing questions in particular from two of the court’s liberals — Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson and Justice Sonia Sotomayor — who noted that Congress amended the law in 1952 and replaced those terms.
“If we’re going to define a statute, we shouldn’t define it to put in words that Congress took out,” said Sotomayor. “And Congress previous to this statute had the words ‘aiding and abetting’ and ‘soliciting’ and took them out. So now we’re putting back in what Congress took out?” --->READ MORE HERE
Christian Chavez/AP Photo
Justices poised to uphold federal ban on encouraging illegal immigration:
A majority of the Supreme Court seemed unwilling on Monday to strike down a federal ban on encouraging immigrants to remain in the U.S. illegally, despite arguments that the law violates the First Amendment.
Most of the justices seemed to accept that the statute — which imposes up to five years in prison for encouraging or inducing an unlawful immigrant to remain in the U.S. — could be read to intrude on free-speech rights.
However, several members of the high court noted that the government has seldom used the law to prosecute people for mere comments or suggestions. The rarity of such prosecutions undercuts claims that the law is unconstitutionally overbroad and could prompt immigration lawyers and other activists to avoid counseling undocumented immigrants about their options, some justices said.
“There’s an absence of prosecution,” Justice Amy Coney Barrett said. “There’s also an absence of demonstrated chilling effect.”
But the court’s liberal justices said the concerns sounded far from hypothetical. Justice Sonia Sotomayor posited a potential prosecution of a child for encouraging a grandmother in the U.S. to stay while knowing she was not here legally.
“The grandmother tells her son she’s worried about the burden she’s putting on the family and the son says, ‘Abuelita, you are never a burden to us. If you want to live here and continue living here with us, your grandchildren would love having you.’ Can you prosecute this?”
“I think not,” Justice Department attorney Brian Fletcher said, defending the statute. “I think it’s very hard.” --->READ MORE HERE
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