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Human Smuggling

Human Smuggling and Alien Trafficking


U.S. Code § 1324 – Bringing in and harboring certain aliens

(1)(A) Any person who—

  • (i) knowing that a person is an alien, brings to or attempts to bring to the United States in any
    manner whatsoever such person at a place other than a designated port of entry or place other than as designated by the Commissioner, regardless of whether such alien has received prior official authorization to come to, enter, or reside in the United States and regardless of any future official action which may be taken with respect to such alien;
  • (ii) knowing or in reckless disregard of the fact that an alien has come to, entered, or remains in the United States in violation of law, transports, or moves or attempts to transport or move such alien within the United States by means of transportation or otherwise, in furtherance of such violation of law;
  • (iii) knowing or in reckless disregard of the fact that an alien has come to, entered, or remains in the United States in violation of law, conceals, harbors, or shields from detection, or attempts to conceal, harbor, or shield from detection, such alien in any place, including any building or any means of transportation;
  • (iv) encourages or induces an alien to come to, enter, or reside in the United States, knowing or in reckless disregard of the fact that such coming to, entry, or residence is or will be in violation of law; or
  • (v)
    • (I) engages in any conspiracy to commit any of the preceding acts, or
    • (II) aids or abets the commission of any of the preceding acts, shall be punished as
      provided in subparagraph(B)

(B) A person who violates subparagraph (A) shall, for each alien in respect to whom such a violation
occurs—

  • (i) in the case of a violation of subparagraph (A)(i) or (v)(I) or in the case of a violation of
    subparagraph (A)(ii), (iii), or (iv) in which the offense was done for the purpose of commercial advantage or private financial gain, be fined under Title 18,  imprisoned not more than 10 years, or both;
  • (ii) in the case of a violation of subparagraph (A) (ii), (iii), (iv), or (v)(II), be fined under Title 18, imprisoned not more than 5 years, or both;
  • (iii) in the case of a violation of subparagraph (A) (i), (ii), (iii), (iv), or (v) during and in relation to which the person causes serious bodily injury (as defined in section 1365 of Title 18 ) to, or places in jeopardy the life of, any person, be fined under Title 18, imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both; and
  • (iv) in the case of a violation of subparagraph (A) (i), (ii), (iii), (iv), or (v) resulting in the death of any person, be punished by death or imprisoned for any term of years or for life, fined under Title 18, or both.

(C) It is not a violation of clauses 1 (ii) or (iii) of subparagraph (A), or of clause (iv) of subparagraph (A) except where a person encourages or induces an alien to come to or enter the United States, for a religious denomination having a bona fide nonprofit, religious organization in the United States, or the agents or officers of such denomination or organization, to encourage, invite, call, allow, or enable an alien who is present in the United States to perform the vocation of a minister or missionary for the denomination or organization in the United States as a volunteer who is not compensated as an employee, notwithstanding the provision of room, board, travel, medical assistance, and other basic living expenses, provided the minister or missionary has been a member of the denomination for at least one year.

(2) Any person who, knowing or in reckless disregard of the fact that an alien has not received prior official authorization to come to, enter, or reside in the United States, brings to or attempts to bring to the United States in any manner whatsoever, such alien, regardless of any official action which may later be taken with respect to such alien shall, for each alien in respect to whom a violation of this paragraph occurs—

(A) be fined in accordance with Title 18 or imprisoned not more than one year, or both; or

(B) in the case of—

  • i) an offense committed with the intent or with reason to believe that the alien unlawfully brought into the United States will commit an offense against the United States or any State punishable by imprisonment for more than 1 year,
  • (ii) an offense done for the purpose of commercial advantage or private financial gain, or
  • (iii) an offense in which the alien is not upon arrival immediately brought and presented to an appropriate immigration officer at a designated port of entry, be fined under Title 18 and shall be imprisoned, in the case of a first or second violation of subparagraph (B)(iii), not more than 10 years, in the case of a first or second violation of subparagraph (B)(i) or (B)(ii), not less than 3 nor more than 10 years, and for any other
    violation, not less than 5 nor more than 15 years.

(3)

(A) Any person who, during any 12-month period, knowingly hires for employment at least 10 individuals with actual knowledge that the individuals are aliens described in subparagraph (B) shall be fined under Title 18 or imprisoned for not more than 5 years, or both.
B) An alien described in this subparagraph is an alien who—

  • i) is an unauthorized alien (as defined in section 1324a(h)(3) of this title), and
  • ii) has been brought into the United States in violation of this subsection

(4) In the case of a person who has brought aliens into the United States in violation of this subsection, the
sentence otherwise provided for may be increased by up to 10 years if—

(A) the offense was part of an ongoing commercial organization or enterprise;
(B) aliens were transported in groups of 10 or more; and
(C)

  • (i) aliens were transported in a manner that endangered their lives; or
  • (ii) the aliens presented a life-threatening health risk to people in the United States.

What does it mean?

 
  •  First and foremost, it is important to understand that this is a very serious crime with
    which to be charged. The sentences are pretty lengthy and can affect even your
    immigration status in the United States if you are not a citizen. We will break it down for you in a simpler way, leave the statutory language and interpretations up to us. Here is what you need to know.

What is Harboring? Which one of the actions I’m accused of was criminal in nature?

 
  •  Under§ 1324, an individual could be charged for the following acts:
    • Bringing, or attempting to bring, someone to the U.S. outside of a designated
      point-of-entry, despite knowing that person is an alien. Remember that the
      undocumented immigrant’s method of entry does not matter if they came so
      outside the legal process. No matter how they came to be in the United States, if
      they are here unlawfully, they are subject to deportation when they come in
      contact with ICE or any other law enforcement agency.
    • Transporting, moving, or attempting to transport or move someone who you
      know has entered the U.S. illegally, or who you should know has entered the
      country illegally. (Even if the defendant didn’t know, but should have known, they
      can be charged for the above-mentioned act)
    • Concealing, harboring, or shielding an alien from detection, or attempting to
      shield an alien from detection, in a building or any vehicle despite knowing the
      alien entered the country in violation of U.S. immigration laws.
    • Encouraging an alien to come to the U.S. or to reside in the U.S. despite knowing
      this will be a violation of the law. This is sufficient conduct under the federal code
      to charge an individual with a §1324 crime.

What If I simply meant to help and did not know that it was a crime?

 

Aiding and abetting:

  • Aiding or abetting any of these actions or engaging in a conspiracy to commit any of these actions, can also result in criminal charges for harboring.
  • Unfortunately, you can still be charged under §8 USC 1324 even if you were only
    intending to help someone. Helping undocumented immigrants either evade detection by law enforcement or helping them not get caught by bringing them into your home or business may subject you to a criminal charge as outlined here
    and can affect your future for years to come.
  • NOTE: Simply having an illegal alien on one’s property as an employee, tenant, or
    houseguest is considered a criminal offense. Even if your intentions were to
    merely help someone in need.

■ Conspiracy

  • Just like it is illegal for you to aid and abet or participate in the harboring, it is
    • also illegal to conspire to do so.
      ▪ PLEASE NOTE THAT this means that although you did not personally bring the individual to the United States or have a  participating role in them coming to this country, you can still be personally liable once an illegal alien is on your property.
      ▪ A conspiracy occurs when two or more people plan to commit an offense. Also, these people must make an overt act towards completing that plan.

What sort of penalties might I face if I’m charged with this offense?

 

■ Penalties

  • The answer is not one most people want to hear. “It depends.” The statute takes
    into consideration what the defendant knew or should have known.
  • The penalty under this statute will depend on whether you were acting for
    commercial or private” financial gains. This distinction will determine the length
    of time you can spend imprisoned if you are found guilty.
  • If you act for profit, you can be imprisoned for up to 10 years and face
    fines.
    If you do not act for profit, but violate the law anyway, you can be
    imprisoned for a maximum of five years.
    ▪ However, the statute states that if any individual who you are harboring
    sustains serious bodily injury, is in jeopardy of injury, faces death, or could
    face death due to the actions you take, you could face a maximum of 20
    years in prison (for injury) or life in prison (for death). This is true EVEN IF
    you never intended to put anyone in danger but your actions caused any
    of the above risks of injury to the undocumented individual(s) in
    question.

What should I do if I am charged with this crime?

 

Federal crimes in the Western District of Texas are prosecuted at one of
the four federal judicial districts in Texas. The headquarters of the
Western District are in San Antonio. Additional offices are located in
Alpine, Austin, Del Rio, El Paso, Midland, and Waco.

If you are under investigation for a federal crime being prosecuted in the
Western District of Texas or the San Antonio Division, then contact the
experienced team at Flanary Law Firm, PLLC.

Call (210) 319-4385 or contact us here for a free and confidential
consultation.

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