The Supreme Court A federal judge on Friday upheld a provision of federal law that prohibits the promotion of illegal immigration for financial gain, ruling against a man who ran an organization that falsely claimed that noncitizens could gain citizenship in the United States through adult adoption.
The case raised significant free speech concerns in the context of a law barring individuals from promoting illegal immigration.
In this case, Helaman Hansen ran the Helping America Chamber of Commerce, which falsely claimed that non-citizens could become citizens of the United States through adult adoption. He tried to convince applicants for citizenship that many immigrants became US citizens through his program, even though he knew it was false.
The convictions against Hansen are likely to be reinstated under the statute.
In 2017, he was found guilty of multiple counts of mail fraud and wire fraud, including promoting or inducing illegal immigration for personal financial gain. The investigation revealed that 471 victims participated in the program and paid between $550 and $10,000 each. According to court documents, Hansen earned more than $1.8 million. He was sentenced to 240 months each for the wire and mail fraud counts and 120 months for encouraging illegal immigration.
His lawyers argued that the law violated his First Amendment rights because it had the potential to cover a wide range of general statements that could be interpreted as encouraging a non-citizen to remain in the United States. They argued that it could criminalize everyday conversations about immigration.