LAS VEGAS ( Associated Press) – The Justice Department acknowledged Thursday that a 1929 law that makes it a crime to enter the country after deportation was inspired by racism, but said subsequent amendments made it constitutional. While asking an appeals court to overturn the landmark was upheld by a Nevada judge who overturned it.
In an order issued in August 2021, U.S. District Judge Miranda Doo in Reno, Nevada, dismissed an illegal re-entry charge against Mexican immigrant Gustavo Carrillo Lopez on the grounds that the law known as Section 1326 protected his constitutional rights. Violates the rights and is discriminatory against Latinos.
Dew’s ruling was the first of its kind since Congress had re-entered the United States nearly a century earlier after the crime of desertion. It’s a significant victory for those who advocate for far-reaching reform of the country’s immigration system.
But the federal government appealed and on Thursday morning presented its case before a three-judge panel of the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in Pasadena, California.
“I don’t think a federal statute can be struck down because a judge finds it discriminatory,” Justice Department attorney Scott Meisler said in livestreamed arguments.
Meisler said the US government is “well aware” of the “problematic” intent of the Undesirable Aliens Act of 1929, which focused heavily on immigration from Mexico. But he rebuked Du for basing his decision on that version of the law, and not on a revised statute enacted by Congress in 1952, known as the Immigration and Nationality Act.
Section 1326 of the Revised Code makes it a crime to enter the United States by any person who has been denied entry, or who has previously been removed or deported.
“That statute, as enacted in 1952 and since amended, is constitutional under principles of equal protection,” Meisler told the judges, “and the district court in this case is the only one in the country to hold to the contrary.” draws conclusions.”
In his judgment, Dew wrote that the 1952 amendment failed to “cleanse” the “racist and nationalist roots” of the 1929 law, adding that amendments to section 1326 over the years “made the provision more punitive”. and expanded its scope.
Irwin Chemerinsky, an attorney for Carrillo Lopez, rejected the Justice Department’s claim that Du’s ruling was “plainly wrong”.
Chemerinsky said the appeals court should uphold the decision because “the 1929 law was the basis for the 1952 reenactment, and it is the basis for the law that exists today.”
“It is revealing that the government has accepted that the 1929 statute was motivated by discriminatory intent,” he said.
There is no time limit for the appeals court to issue its decision. Meanwhile, the fate of a case that could have far-reaching implications is up in the air.
If Dew’s decision is upheld, the government would no longer be able to prosecute people for illegal re-entry in the 10 states under jurisdiction of the Ninth Circuit, including Nevada and California.
Ann Garcia, an attorney with the nonprofit National Immigration Project, heard oral arguments.
Garcia said after the hearing, “The Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has an opportunity to ensure that laws based on white supremacy and xenophobia are no longer used to unfairly prosecute immigrants of color.” Is.”