70°F
weather icon Clear

Federal judge rules that immigration law is unconstitutional

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — A federal judge in Kansas has ruled that a law making it a crime to “encourage” or “induce” immigrants to enter or live in the country illegally is unconstitutional.

KCUR-FM reports that U.S. District Judge Carlos Murguia issued his ruling from the bench Wednesday before throwing out the convictions of Jose Felipe Hernandez-Calvillo and Mauro Papalotzi. Prosecutors said the men, who themselves are in the country illegally, managed crews of workers who installed drywall for a Lawrence company.

After they were convicted of conspiring with supervisors to violate the law, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled in a similar case that encouraging immigrants to be in the country illegally is protected speech under the First Amendment.

Kansas isn’t governed by the Ninth Circuit, but Murguia found the argument persuasive. He said in his ruling that he was adopting the Ninth Circuit court’s analysis “in full” and agreed that the law is “overbroad.” Four others who also were charged in 2016 with violating the law, including the company’s owner, pleaded guilty in 2017 to misdemeanors.

The law was passed by Congress in 1952 and has been amended several times since then. Violations carry a sentence of up to five years in prison, with another five tacked on if the defendant acted for “commercial advantage or private financial gain.”

“The important thing, other than the First Amendment issue, is that the government was using this (law) to charge people who did nothing more than make a job available to an undocumented person, whether or not they had direct knowledge that the person was undocumented,” said Hernandez-Calvillo’s attorney, Tom Bradshaw.

“The statute requires that when you ‘encourage’ or ‘induce,’ you know the person was here illegally. But the government has played loose with that.”

Jim Cross, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney for the District of Kansas, said in an email that his office “is evaluating the judge’s ruling at this time” and had not made a decision about its next step. If prosecutors appeal, that sets up the potential for the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which covers Kansas, to overturn Murguia’s ruling. That would create a conflict between two federal circuits, setting the stage for a possible Supreme Court decision to resolve the issue.

The two men whose convictions Murguia threw out could still be deported, although the government has not initiated deportation proceedings against them. Bradshaw said his client is raising a son who was born in the U.S. and just graduated from high school.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Politics Videos
Bernie Sanders Unveils Affordable Housing Plan - Video
Bernie Sanders sits down with the Las Vegas Review-Journal to talk about his new affordable housing plan he unveiled at Plumbers & Pipefitters.
Jim Marchant talks gun control and Dreamers - Video
Republican Candidate for District 4 Jim Marchant talks about gun control and immigration policies. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Hurricanes, Gender, and Science in the Press
Imagine if the mainstream media’s current hurricane-sized obsession with scientific accuracy applied to gender.
Cory Booker on college tuition and minimum wage
Cory Booker talks on the RJ Politics podcast about college debt, informing workers about their rights and livable wages.
Nevada Politics Today: Teacher raises - VIDEO
Jason Goudie, the chief financial officer for the Clark County School District, talks about teacher pay and raises. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Media's Double Standard On Incitement And Trump - Video
Over the weekend, an Elizabeth Warren-supporting socialist who opposed gun violence used a rifle to commit a mass murder in Dayton, Ohio. The media has downplayed that aspect of the tragedy.
Project Our Care Tour Kicks Off In Las Vegas
U.S. Rep. Dina Titus joined health care advocates and local residents as part of Protect Our Care’s nationwide bus tour kick off in Las Vegas on Monday, August 5, 2019. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Bernie Sanders talks about guns, response to El Paso shooting
Sen. Bernie Sanders spoke about his response and continued policy ideas about guns and gun control to the Review-Journal after a panel of other topics. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pete Buttigieg On Gun Control And Climate Change - Video
Pete Buttigieg talks about his campaign for the 2020 election and how Nevada is a vision of what the future can be.
Beto O'Rourke speaks in Las Vegas
Presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke spoke to supporters at the East Las Vegas Community Center in Las Vegas, Thursday, Aug. 2, 2019. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Former Nevada Senate leader Kelvin Atkinson sentenced to prison
Former Nevada Senate Majority Leader Kelvin Atkinson, who pleaded guilty to misusing campaign funds, was sentenced to 27 months in prison on Thursday, July 18, 2019. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Trumps Strength is also a Weakness - Video
One of Donald Trump’s greatest strengths — his ability to shape national narratives — is also a great weakness.
Tax the Rich Bus Tour makes a stop in Las Vegas - Video
The Tax the Rich Bus has stopped in Las Vegas as part of its summer tour. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Assemblywoman Daniele Monroe-Moreno hosts BBQ - Video
Assembly Woman Daniele Monroe-Moreno hosts BBQ to bring the community together to hear about the candidates up for election and for people to gather and have fun.
Democrat Virtual Caucus - Video
Elizabeth Warren visits Las Vegas
Senator Elizabeth Warren made a campaign stop at the East Las Vegas Community Center on Tuesday July 2, 2019. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Aaron Ford Speaks About Bill AB431
AB431 is a bill sponsored by Nevada Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson to restore the right to vote for formerly incarcerated individuals. Attorney General Aaron Ford spoke at the AM&E Church in North Las Vegas about the bill, on Monday, July 1, 2019. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
THE LATEST
Trump says China trade deal unnecessary before election

The world’s two largest economies have been locked in a high-stakes duel marked by Trump’s escalating penalties on Chinese goods and Beijing’s retaliatory tariffs.

UAW strike puts Trump, GOP in political bind in key states

Led by President Donald Trump, GOP officials have largely avoided taking sides in the strike that threatens to upend the economy in Michigan.

Commissioners want Clark County to fight climate change

Clark County Commissioner Justin Jones outlined steps this week he’d like to take to fight climate change, including hiring a sustainability director and adopting an action plan similar to the city of Reno.

Trump defends himself repeatedly against whistleblower’s complaint

President Donald Trump defended himself Friday against a whistleblower’s complaint, including a reported private conversation with a foreign leader. Meanwhile, the administration plunged into a showdown with Congress over access to the complaint.

US to send more troops to Saudi Arabia, UAE

The Pentagon says the U.S. will deploy additional troops and military equipment to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to beef up security, as President Donald Trump has at least for now decided against any immediate military strike on Iran in response to the attack on the Saudi oil industry.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio drops 2020 presidential bid

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio ended his campaign for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination on Friday after struggling to gain traction in a sprawling field of candidates.