January 20, 2018

Colorado Supreme Court: Colorado Human Smuggling Statute Preempted by Federal Immigration & Nationality Act

The Colorado Supreme Court issued its opinion in Fuentes-Espinoza v. People on Monday, October 9, 2017.

Alien Smuggling—Field Preemption—Conflict Preemption.

This case required the Colorado Supreme Court to determine whether Colorado’s human smuggling statute, C.R.S. § 18-13-128, is preempted by the federal Immigration and Nationality Act, 8 U.S.C. §§ 1101–1537 (2017) (INA). The court concluded that the INA preempts C.R.S. § 18-13-128 under the doctrines of both field and conflict preemption. In reaching this conclusion, the court agreed with a number of federal circuit courts that have reviewed the same INA provisions at issue here and have determined that those provisions create a comprehensive framework to penalize the transportation, concealment, and inducement of unlawfully present aliens and thus evince a congressional intent to occupy the field criminalizing such conduct. In addition, applying the analyses set forth in those federal decisions, the court concluded that C.R.S. § 18-13-128, like the state human smuggling statutes at issue in the federal cases, stands as an obstacle to the accomplishment and execution of Congress’s purposes and objectives in enacting its comprehensive framework. Accordingly, the court reversed petitioner’s judgment of conviction under C.R.S. § 18-13-128.

Summary provided courtesy of Colorado Lawyer.

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