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Encouraging Illegal Immigration Is Protected Speech, Court Says

  • U.S. appeals court finds law criminalizing advocates overbroad
  • Conviction of immigrant counselor in California is overturned
Vehicles drive past a section of a border fence that separates the U.S. and Mexico in Sunland Park, New Mexico.
Photographer: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg

A federal law that bars Americans from encouraging or inducing a foreigner to stay in the U.S. illegally violates the First Amendment’s protections of free speech, an appeals court ruled Tuesday.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the conviction of California immigrant counselor Evelyn Sineneng-Smith on the grounds that she was prosecuted under a law that the judges called “unconstitutionally overbroad.”