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AG Knudsen continues efforts to stop illegal immigration

  • Leads coalition to support federal law against encouragement of illegal immigration
  • He joins the cause to stop the illegal citizenship program

HELENA — Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen led a coalition of 25 state attorneys general in submitting an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court Wednesday in support of a federal criminal ban on encouraging or inducing illegal immigration into the United States.

The attorneys general are asking the Supreme Court to overturn a decision by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals striking down a federal law that makes it illegal for a person to encourage or induce noncitizens to enter or reside illegally in the United States.

“Today more than ever, illegal immigration imposes huge economic, social and fiscal burdens on states. The decision below, if left undisturbed, will hamper the enforcement of immigration criminal laws nationwide, leading to significant negative consequences for the [states]”, Attorney General Knudsen said in the brief.

Relying on the “doctrine of excessive breadth,” which allows a federal court to strike down a statute if it would violate the First Amendment in a substantial number of other cases, the Ninth Circuit struck down a federal law that prevents people from encouraging clandestine immigration. But the panel’s tense analysis greatly expands the scope of this doctrine, encroaching on the separation of powers between the federal government and the states.

In doing so, Ninth Circuit decisions undermine Montana’s ability to enforce its criminal laws against encouraging or inducing wrongful conduct. In Montana, these laws include soliciting, promoting prostitution and sexually abusing children.

If the Ninth Circuit’s expansive application of the doctrine of overbreadth holds up, important state criminal laws will be vulnerable to broad constitutional challenges. This undermines the constitutional power of states to create and enforce a penal code.

“Allowing the Ninth Circuit’s decision to resist threatens widespread uncertainty in the ability of states to enforce their criminal laws that use these terms,” short states.

To avoid this, Attorney General Knudsen and the coalition argue that excessive claims should require demonstration rather than a hypothetical danger of freezing protected speech, and that the alleged crime is excessive.

Attorney Generals of Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming joined Attorney General Knudsen in presenting the amicus brief.

The amicus brief followed a lawsuit filed Tuesday by a 20-state coalition, including Attorney General Knudsen, against the Biden administration over a new Department of Homeland Security (DHS) program that illegally creates a de facto route towards citizenship for hundreds of thousands of aliens.

The DHS program would establish a new visa system that would allow up to 360,000 foreigners from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua and Venezuela to be “paroled” into the United States each year. But Congress only authorized parole for immigrants who meet very specific standards that weren’t met in this case. Contrary to existing law, the program creates a path for program participants to apply from their home country and obtain legal status to enter and remain in the United States for up to two years or even longer.

As a result of the policy, states “will face substantial and irreparable harm from the Department’s abuses of its probation authority, potentially allowing hundreds of thousands of additional aliens into each of their already overwhelmed territories.”

The program increases the burden on Montana’s legally present taxpayers because many illegal immigrants pay virtually no state taxes. However, the state is forced to finance resources such as education, health, public assistance and public administration services for illegal immigrants.

The Biden administration instituted this program without engaging in the usual regulatory notice and comment process required by law.

Click here to read the amicus brief.

Click here to read the lawsuit.

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