Landmark Ruling: Ban on Encouraging Illegal Immigration Upheld!

Supreme Court Rejects Lawsuit Challenging Law on Encouraging Illegal Immigration

Ban on Encouraging Illegal Immigration Upheld
Ban on Encouraging Illegal Immigration Upheld

The Supreme Court has dismissed a lawsuit challenging a law that criminalizes the act of “encouraging or inducing” illegal immigration. The case, U.S. v Hansen, involved Helaman Hansen, a California-based individual who defrauded hundreds of noncitizens by promising them entry and a path to citizenship through “adult adoption.” The court’s decision, written by Justice Amy Coney Barrett, upheld Hansen’s conviction for fraud and encouraging illegal immigration. This article explores the case, its implications, and the Supreme Court’s ruling.


Helaman Hansen, a California resident, operated a fraudulent scheme where he promised noncitizens a pathway to citizenship through “adult adoption.” However, no such pathway exists in U.S. law, and Hansen managed to earn nearly $2 million from over 450 foreign nationals who fell victim to his scam. His crimes led to his conviction for fraud and encouraging illegal immigration.

Hansen’s Challenge and Lower Court Decisions

Hansen challenged his conviction, claiming that the law on “encouraging or inducing” illegal immigration is overly broad and violates the free speech clause of the First Amendment. A district court initially ruled against him, upholding his conviction. However, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals later ruled in Hansen’s favor, declaring that the law on encouragement is unconstitutional due to its overbroad nature.

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The Supreme Court’s Ruling

In a 7-2 decision, the Supreme Court rejected Hansen’s appeal. In her opinion, Justice Amy Coney Barrett stated that for a challenger to succeed, they must demonstrate that a statute prohibits a significant amount of protected speech outside its legitimate coverage. The unconstitutional application must also be disproportionate to the law’s legitimate scope. According to Barrett, Hansen failed to meet these criteria, and his appeal was dismissed.

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Dissenting Opinions

Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Ketanji Brown Jackson dissented from the majority opinion. Justice Jackson argued that the law’s breadth could prove to be a significant obstacle for those who operate daily in the shadow of the law, including lawyers, immigration advocacy organizations, religious and charitable organizations, journalists, local governments, and nonprofit policy institutions.

Implications of the Ruling

The Supreme Court’s decision in U.S. v Hansen has important implications. By upholding the law on “encouraging or inducing” illegal immigration, the court has affirmed the government’s authority to criminalize certain forms of speech that contribute to the perpetuation of illegal immigration scams. This ruling serves as a warning to individuals who seek to profit from exploiting vulnerable noncitizens.

Second Immigration Ruling on ICE Priorities

In addition to the case of U.S. v Hansen, the Supreme Court also ruled 8-1 to reject a Republican-state challenge to the Biden administration’s narrowed Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) priorities. The states argued that the narrowing of ICE’s priorities led to fewer arrests and deportations, burdening the states with additional costs. The court, however, found that the states lacked standing to challenge the priorities.


The Supreme Court’s decision to dismiss the lawsuit challenging the law on “encouraging or inducing” illegal immigration is a significant victory for the Biden administration and the fight against illegal immigration scams. The court’s ruling reiterates the government’s authority to prosecute those who exploit vulnerable noncitizens. Furthermore, the rejection of the ICE priorities challenge reinforces the executive branch’s discretion in determining enforcement policies. As the nation continues to grapple with immigration issues, these rulings establish important precedents for future cases.