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By The Associated Press, published on December 13, 2022

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AP Photo by Patrick Semansky

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court said Dec. 9 it would 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 justices 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 persuaded to remain in the country illegally, and noncitizens outside the United States whom he persuaded to travel to and live in the United States illegally to participate.

 

A jury convicted him on 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.

 

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