Repost from The Virginia Star.

A U.S. federal appeals court ruled Wednesday that a federal law banning the encouragement of non-U.S. citizens to enter or reside in the country illegally is unconstitutional because it penalizes freedom of speech.

In a 2-1 decision, The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the law criminalizes “vast amounts of protected speech” like informing non-citizens about social programs or telling family members to stay in the country even if their visa expires. Although the law is part of a broader statute barring human smuggling, Circuit Judge Nancy Moritz wrote that the law likely bans commonplace statements that are repeated across the nation countless times each day.

The law places criminal punishment on those 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,” according to 8 U.S. Code 1324.

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