US law against some statements to immigrants is struck down

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A U.S. appeals court has struck down a federal immigration law that opponents warned could be used to criminalize a wide range of statements involving people in the country illegally.

The law made it a felony for people to encourage an immigrant to enter or live in the U.S. if they know either act is illegal.

A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday that the law is unconstitutional because it criminalizes a substantial amount of protected speech.

Judge A. Wallace Tashima said the statute would make it illegal for a grandmother to urge her grandson to ignore limits on his visa by encouraging him to stay in the U.S.

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An email to the Justice Department was not immediately returned.

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