Consider three recent immigration-related Supreme Court decisions:
On June 22, 2023, the Supreme Court, in a 6-3 decision authored by Justice Brett Kavanaugh, ruled that a person can obstruct justice even before an official investigation has been opened, and thus be deported.
This ruling responded to two separate cases that made their way to the Supreme Court:
1. Jean Francois Pugin, a legal immigrant from Mauritius (an Indian Ocean island nation east of Madagascar), was convicted for accessory after the fact to a felony. The government argued this was obstruction of justice, grounds for deportation. Pugin argued it wasn’t obstruction because there was no legal proceeding at the time of his being an accessory after the fact.
2. Mexican immigrant Fernando Cordero-Garcia was a legal resident since 1965. While serving as a government psychologist, Cordero-Garcia sexually assaulted many patients and used his position to pressure them to keep quiet about his crimes. His subsequent conviction for witness tampering was regarded by the government as obstruction of justice, but a federal appeals court had ruled in his favor.
The Biden administration argued that both these guys were deportable, and the Court ruled in its favor.
The court held that, “An offense may ‘relate to’ obstruction of justice under the Immigration and Nationality Act’s definition of an ‘aggravated felony,’ 8 U.S.C. § 1101(a)(43)(S), even if the offense does not require that an investigation or proceeding be pending.”
This decision should expand the ability of the government to deport immigrants (legal or illegal) in cases involving obstruction of justice.
But remember, we’re talking about the Biden administration, which is not too keen on deportation anyway.
This 7-2 decision, authored by Amy Coney Barrett (ACB), was handed down on June 23, 2023.
It involved the case of Heleman Hansen, who “promised hundreds of noncitizens a path to U. S. citizenship through ‘adult adoption.’ But that was a scam. Though there is no path to citizenship through ‘adult adoption,’ Hansen earned nearly $2 million from his scheme.”
“The United States charged Hansen with, inter alia, violating 8 U. S. C. §1324(a)(1)(A)(iv), which forbids ‘encourag[ing] or induc[ing] an alien to come to, enter, or reside in the United States, knowing or in reckless disregard of the fact that such [activity] is or will be in violation of law.'"
After Hansen was convicted as charged, the infamous Ninth Circuit had backed him up based on the argument that the encouragement law is too broad and that it violates the First Amendment’s Free Speech clause.
But the Supreme Court held that it didn’t violate the First Amendment because, as ACB wrote in her decision, “Properly interpreted, this provision forbids only the intentional solicitation or facilitation of certain unlawful acts" – not just statements encouraging illegal immigration.
After all, if everybody who encouraged illegal immigration were held liable, that could well include much of our media, political, and academic classes.
Facilitation of illegal immigration? Our own federal government is doing that.
This 8-1 decision, also authored by Kavanaugh, was handed down on June 23, 2023. Only Justice Alito dissented.
From the decision: “In 2021, the Secretary of Homeland Security promulgated new immigration-enforcement guidelines (Guidelines for the Enforcement of Civil Immigration Law) that prioritize the arrest and removal from the United States of noncitizens who are suspected terrorists or dangerous criminals or who have unlawfully entered the country only recently, for example.” (In reality, they don’t even do that much!)
Texas and Louisiana sued the federal government, arguing that the administration did not have the right to choose who and who not to detain and that the policy caused harm to their states.
But the Supreme Court ruled that Texas and Louisiana do not even have standing to sue the federal government over this issue, leaving the policy in place.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s response: “SCOTUS gives the Biden Admin. carte blanche to avoid accountability for abandoning enforcement of immigration laws.”
Well, yeah, but that’s been administration policy since January 20, 2021, hasn’t it?
You can find more of Allan Wall's work at his website.