On September 18, 2017, the Ninth Circuit invited the Federal Defender Organizations of the Ninth Circuit and the Immigrant Defense Project and the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild to file amicus briefs in United States v. Sineneng-Smith, No. 15-10614, a case that had been fully briefed, argued and taken under submission. The defendant in the case was convicted of violations of 8 U.S.C. § 1324(a)(1)(A)(iv), which provides that any person who “encourages or induces an alien to come to, enter, or reside in the United States, knowing or in reckless disregard of the fact that such coming to, entry, or residence is or will be in violation of law” commits a felony punishable by up to five years in prison. Specifically, the Court invited the organizations to address the following issues:
- Whether the statute of conviction [8 U.S.C. § 1324(a)(1)(A)(iv)] is overbroad or likely overbroad under the First Amendment, and if so, whether any permissible limiting construction would cure the First Amendment problem?
- Whether the statute of conviction is void for vagueness or likely void for vagueness, either under the First Amendment of the Fifth Amendment, and if so, whether any permissible limiting construction would cure the constitutional vagueness problem?
- Whether the statute of conviction contains an implicit mens rea element which the Court should enunciate. If so: (a) what should that mens rea element be; and (b) would such a mens rea element cure any serious constitutional problems the Court might determine existed?
The Federal Defender Organizations of the Ninth Circuit and the Immigrant Defense Project and the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild recently filed amicus briefs. As of October 23, 2017, seven additional amicus briefs were filed. The amicus briefs are available through Pacer. The Training Divison has materials on defending alien smuggling cases.