Supreme Court Hears Arguments Regarding Illegal Immigration Law

Original Case Details

The United States Supreme Court has recently heard arguments regarding the case of United States v. Sineneng-Smith. Evelyn Sineneng-Smith challenged a law that makes it illegal to encourage or aid in someone’s illegal immigration. Ms. Sineneng-Smith was convicted under this law of bringing people to the United States under the false pretense that they were eligible for the “Labor Certification” program even though this program had expired in 2001. Ms. Sineneng-Smith operated an immigration consulting firm that worked to help immigrants obtain work permits and green cards. Ms. Sineneng-Smith was accused of telling her clients this information incorrectly and inducing them to come to the United States from 2001-2008. She submitted applications with this false information, and as a part of this case, was also convicted of mail fraud for her activities. A recent United States Court of Appeals ruling in the Ninth Circuit has stated that this law infringes on freedom of speech as it is too broad. Ms. Sineneng-Smith seeks to have the wording of this law changed which would change its current application.

Current Law

The law at issue here is specifically 8 U.S.C. § 1324: Bringing in and harboring certain aliens. In most basic terms it is illegal to help someone enter or stay in the United States illegally. It is also illegal to make statements to induce someone into illegally entering or staying in the United States. Ms. Sineneng-Smith was directly using a program that she knew or should have known was not an active program, thus encouraging illegal immigration. This is a felony charge that can result in up to 10 years in federal prison. Different parts of this law make it illegal to knowingly hire more than 10 illegal aliens in a twelve-month period, and also to help transport or hide illegal aliens. All immigration related crimes are federal crimes as they are considered crimes against the United States as a whole. The federal government has sought to deter illegal immigration by threatening criminal prosecution which has resulted in the separation of families. Parents have been separated from their children as they find themselves in the criminal courts and their children are taken into custody by government officials and later into foster care.

What Is At Stake?

Ms. Sineneng-Smith stands to possibly have two convictions removed from her record if the Supreme Court finds that the statute is overbroad and violates the First Amendment. She was, however, separately convicted of mail fraud which has since been affirmed by higher courts. The only thing at stake here, truly, is the wording of this law itself. If the challenge is successful, then the law will have to be reworded to be in compliance with the Constitution. If the challenge is unsuccessful, then the law will remain until another case can challenge the wording successfully. The intended purpose of this law is obvious. The federal government wants to deter anyone from trying to enter the country illegally. The government also wants to deter anyone from helping any illegal aliens avoid police or immigration authorities. The Supreme Court will come down with its ruling and attached opinion at a later date. This ruling will be final unless another case can bring up this legal issue.

Any Further Questions?

If you or a loved one is being investigated for an immigration crime or have already been charged with an offense related to an immigration crime, then it is important to speak to an experienced federal criminal defense attorney immediately. At Grabel & Associates, our attorneys have over 100 years of combined experience in successfully defending criminal cases all over the state of Michigan and in federal court. This experience extends not only to adult cases, but also to juvenile charges. We are not a general practice firm. We are a team of criminal defense attorneys; it’s all we do. We offer a FREE consultation to anyone with questions relating to a possible or existing criminal charge against them or a loved one. Feel free to contact us on our 24/7 defense line at 1-800-342-7896. You can also contact us online or come visit us at one of our three statewide locations. We can also come to you.

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