The left-wing American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is set to argue before the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) that encouraging illegal aliens to remain in the U.S. is “plainly protected” by the First Amendment of the Constitution.
This week, the ACLU and the Federal Defender’s Office for the Eastern District of California filed a brief on behalf of Helaman Hansen, who was previously convicted for operating an adoption program that enticed illegal aliens to come to the U.S. and for visa-holders to overstay their visas in the hopes of securing naturalized American citizenship.
As part of his conviction, Hansen was found to have encouraged illegal immigration for his own financial gain under a federal law that makes it a felony to encourage illegal immigration. Hansen appealed that specific conviction to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, claiming the law is broad and unconstitutional.
The court of appeals eventually sided with Hansen, spurring the government to petition SCOTUS to hear the case. Last month, SCOTUS announced that it would hear the case on March 27.
In their brief, the ACLU argues that encouraging or inducing illegal immigration is protected free speech by the First Amendment and that the law used to initially convict Hansen “unlawfully violates the First Amendment.”
“The Supreme Court should not expand the category of speech that can be criminalized to include speech that merely encourages conduct that is not a crime,” the ACLU’s Esha Bhandari said in a statement:
The encouragement provision chills a large amount of constitutionally protected, everyday speech to and about the tens of millions of noncitizens in the country. To permit the government to make speech a crime when it does not even encourage criminal activity would be unprecedented.
The case comes years after Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf (D) was accused of encouraging illegal immigration when she warned businesses in her city that had illegal alien employees of a scheduled Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raid.
“Important Alert! Credible information ICE Raids in Oakland Sunday 2/25 and Monday 2/26,” the message from the mayor’s office to a local business group, the Oakland Indie Alliance, read. “This information comes directly from the Mayor.”
Schaaf, at the time, claimed that her actions did not endanger ICE agents.
“How can it be dangerous and illegal simply to tell people what the law is, what their rights are, what their resources are?” Schaaf said. “That’s all I did.”
Then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions ripped into Schaaf for her warning illegal aliens of the ICE raid, saying “How dare you needlessly endanger the lives of our law enforcement officers to promote a radical open borders agenda.”
The case is United States v. Hansen, No. 22-179 in the Supreme Court of the United States.
John Binder is a reporter for Breitbart News. Email him at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter here.