Friday, the Supreme Court upheld a portion of a federal law used to prosecute people who facilitate illegal immigration, ruling against a California man who fraudulently advertised adult adoptions as a path to U.S. citizenship.
By a vote of 7-2, the court rejected arguments that the law is overly broad and in violation of the Constitution.
The case involves a section of federal immigration law which states that a person who “encourages or induces” a non-citizen to enter or remain in the United States unlawfully is punishable by up to five years in prison.
This is increased to 10 years if the person encouraging others is motivated by financial gain.
The matter before the court involved Helaman Hansen, a resident of Elk Grove, California, in close proximity to Sacramento.
The federal government asserts that between 2012 and 2016, Hansen misled hundreds of noncitizens into believing he could guarantee them a path to citizenship via adult adoption.
Officials claim that based on Hansen’s promises, individuals illegally entered or remained in the United States, despite Hansen’s knowledge that the adult adoptions he arranged did not lead to citizenship.
According to the government, at least 471 individuals paid him between $550 and $10,000 each, and he received more than $1.8 million in total.
Hansen was ultimately convicted of both fraud and encouragement offenses.
He was given a 10-year sentence for the encouragement charges and a 20-year sentence for the fraud charges.
However, a federal appeals court determined that the law on encouragement is overbroad and in violation of the First Amendment’s free expression clause, and overturned only those convictions.
Case number 22-179 is United States v. Helaman Hansen.