Fearless Lawyering, Vol. 2: Exposing the Racist Origins of U.S. Immigration Law with Kara Hartzler

Set for Sentencing podcast Hartzler_sm

Criminal immigration matters make up some 70 percent of all federal cases charged.  But the statutes our government uses to prosecute and sentence undocumented human beings to serious prison time, was motivated by racism and discriminatory intent.  Therefore, a team of fearless lawyers mounted a massive undertaking to challenge these statutes in federal court — and WON.

On August 16, 2022 Judge Du of the United States District Court for the District of Nevada issued a first-of-its-kind ruling, finding that Section 1326 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) is unconstitutional because of its racist origin.

Therefore, helping us get Set for Sentencing today, one of the aforementioned fearless advocates for justice, attorney Kara Hartzler.  Ms. Hartzler walks us through the fascinating and dark history of these laws, the arguments that took them to task, and what the future holds.


  • The racist history behind U.S. Immigration policy;
  • How eugenics and the US policy of “final selection” became a precurser for much of the rationale and policy in place for Hitler’s “final solution”;
  • The Undesirable Aliens Act of 1929 and The Hart-Seller Act of 1965;
  • The litigation challenging the statute as violating equal protection;
  • The “Arlington Heights” test for discriminatory intent;
  • How storytelling won the day in the Nevada constitutional challenge; 
  • Parallels between immigration laws and the Major Crimes Act, giving the federal government jurisdiction over certain crimes on Indian Reservations (i.e. supposedly sovereign nations);
  • The legal effect of the Nevada challenge and what happens next;
  • How to use these arguments at sentencing RIGHT NOW;
  • The importance of working with people outside of the legal community to broaden the perspective of the lawyer and the arguments she can make.



We talked about an incredible organization, the Florence Project, which helps immigrants in ways big and small.  We would love for you to check it out, and maybe even hit the donate button on the home page:  Home – The Florence Project (firrp.org)

If you’d like to listen to Oral arguments at the Ninth Circuit, argued by renowned Constitutional Law Prof., Irwin Chemrinsky, click here:  https://www.ca9.uscourts.gov/media/video/?20221208/21-10233/

As we discussed, regardless of the final outcome, fearless lawyers will continue to point out the racist origins of this statute at sentencing.  If you would like to download a fantastic sample sentencing memorandum raising these issues, please click this button:


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