The Supreme Court will decide whether an illegal alien from the United Arab Emirates was wrongfully convicted of unlawful possession of a firearm.
The case was occasioned in December 2015, when Hamid Mohamed Ahmed Ali Rehaif was arrested in Florida after renting a gun at a shooting range and purchasing ammunition. Federal law prohibits certain classes of people from possessing guns, including illegal aliens.
Rehaif is a citizen of the United Arab Emirates. He came to the United States in 2013 to attend the Florida Institute of Technology (FIT), but was dismissed for academic reasons Jan. 21, 2015. His lawful immigration status terminated shortly thereafter on Feb. 23, 2015. Therefore, he was in the U.S. illegally when he rented the gun and procured ammunition.
At trial, the judge told the jury that “the [prosecution] is not required to prove that [Rehaif] knew that he was illegally or unlawfully in the United States.” The legal question the Supreme Court will decide is whether that instruction was correct.
Rehaif contends the government must prove he knowingly possessed a firearm and knowingly violated immigration law in order to secure a conviction. That point is important because Rehaif claims he did not know his immigration authorization expired after he left FIT. If Rehaif was not aware of his changed immigration status, his lawyers argue, he cannot be convicted for being an illegal alien in possession of a fire arm under the relevant law. (Read more from “Supreme Court to Review Illegal Alien’s Gun Possession Conviction” HERE)