In arguments in Pasadena’s Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, the Justice Department conceded that a 1929 law criminalizing entrance into the United States after deportation was motivated by racism.
However, according to the DOJ revisions later made the law constitutional.
The DOJ made that argument as it urged an appellate court to overturn a landmark decision that could make it illegal to prosecute someone for reentering the country after they have been deported.
“I don’t think a federal statute can fall because one judge finds it’s discriminatory,” Scott Meisler, a Justice Department attorney, argued.
Last year, Judge Miranda Du dismissed charges against Gustavo Carrillo-Lopez on the grounds that the law violated his rights and discriminates against Latinos.
The groundbreaking ruling came for the time since Congress made it a crime almost 100 years ago to re-enter the country after deportation.
But according to DOJ lawyers, the judge relied on the 1929 version of the law and not a 1952 revision known as the Immigration and Nationality Act.
If the Ninth Circuit upholds the ruling, the government could no longer prosecute people for unlawful reentry in 10 states under the Ninth Circuit’s jurisdiction, including Nevada and California.