WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court said Friday it will hear a case involving a scam that falsely promoted adult adoptions as a path to U.S. citizenship.
The case tests whether a section of federal immigration law is unconstitutional because it is so broad it violates the First Amendment's free speech guarantees. The high court two years ago heard arguments on the same issue in a different case, but the court's ruling ultimately did not reach the question.
The new case the high court agreed to hear involves Helaman Hansen, who operated a Sacramento nonprofit called the Americans Helping America Chamber of Commerce. The government said that between 2012 and 2016 he persuaded at least 471 people to join his adult adoption program even though he knew the adoptions he was promoting would not lead to citizenship. People paid between $550 and $10,000 to participate.
Hansen's victims included noncitizens already in the United States on visas whom he convinced to remain in the country illegally, and noncitizens outside the United States whom he convinced to travel to and live in the United States illegally to participate.
A jury convicted him of a series of charges and he was sentenced to 20 years in prison. His conviction, however, included two counts of encouraging or inducing illegal immigration for private financial gain. Hansen argued that those counts should have been dismissed because the section of immigration law he was convicted under is overbroad and unconstitutional. An appeals court agreed. The Supreme Court will review that ruling.
The high court also granted three other cases Friday, including an arbitration case involving cryptocurrency trading platform Coinbase.