USA V. GUSTAVO CARRILLO-LOPEZ, No. 21-10233 (9th Cir. 2023)

We hold that the district court clearly erred in its finding that Congress’s enactment of §1326 was motivated in part by the purpose of discriminating against Mexicans or other Central and South Americans. The strong “presumption of good faith” on the part of the 1952 Congress is central to our analysis. Miller, 515 U.S. at 916. Rather than applying this presumption, the district court construed evidence in a light unfavorable to Congress, including finding that evidence unrelated to §1326 indicated that Congress enacted §1326 due to discriminatory animus against Mexicans and other Central and South Americans. The district court also erred in finding that Congress’s failure “to repudiate the racial animus clearly present in 1929” was indicative of Congress’s discriminatory motive in enacting the INA.

We conclude that Carrillo-Lopez did not meet his burden to prove that Congress enacted §1326 because of discriminatory animus against Mexicans or other Central and South Americans. “This conclusion ends the constitutional inquiry,” Arlington Heights, 429 U.S. at 267, and we reject Carrillo-Lopez’s equal protection claim. In reaching this conclusion, we join the Fifth Circuit, which in a case raising substantially identical arguments and relying on the same evidence, held that the evidence was “insufficient to establish that Congress enacted §1326 with racial animus.” Barcenas-Rumualdo, 53 F.4th at 866–67. REVERSED AND REMANDED.