Crimes of Immigration and Deportation
One of the most common immigration crimes is alien smuggling. Criminal laws prohibiting alien smuggling are generally found in Title 8 of the United States Code. The federal law against smuggling aliens makes it a crime to bring or attempt to bring an alien into the United States through any place other than a designated port of entry such as an airport, a seaport, or a border crossing where an alien’s entry documents and status will be checked. An alien is officially admitted into the United States after clearing through Immigration and Customs Enforcement (I.C.E.) An attempt to avoid this admission process is considered smuggling an alien into the United States.
Harboring and Transporting Illegal Aliens
The federal law makes it a crime to transport an illegal alien from one location to another location in order to aid an alien’s illegal entry into the United States. The statute also makes it a crime to harbor or conceal an alien to aid or cover up the illegal entry. In other words, the crime of transporting or concealing an alien requires that the person acts with the intent to prevent the alien from being discovered as an illegal alien.
Penalties for Alien Smuggling
Criminal penalties will depend on the nature of the offense. If the motivation was for financial gain, the defendant faces a maximum of 10 years in prison. If a smuggler brings in aliens for commercial gain, the defendant faces a mandatory minimum jail sentence of three years. Alien smuggling committed for some other reason that does not involve financial gain carries a 5 year maximum sentence. If someone is seriously injured in an alien smuggling attempt the maximum sentence jumps to 20 years in prison. If a person dies as a result of a smuggling attempt, the punishment can be life or if warranted, the death sentence can be imposed. These harsh penalties were enacted following the loss of lives and atrocities that were often caused by unscrupulous alien smugglers. Unfortunately, aliens who are desperate to enter the United States will pay large sums of money and risk their lives just to cross the border. Do not hesitate to contact Miami attorney Ken Swartz if you or someone you love has been charged with an immigration crime.
Reentering the U. S. after having been Deported from the U.S. following a Criminal Conviction
An alien who was deported from the United States and then attempts to reenter, or is found in the U.S. illegally, faces a two year prison sentence. But if the alien was deported subsequent to a criminal conviction for an aggravated felony, the penalty can be up to 20 years in prison. The list of aggravated felonies can be found in 8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(43) and includes any violent offense, drug offenses, and most other serious offenses. The federal sentencing guidelines range will be significantly higher for an illegal reentry case where the alien has an aggravated felony conviction.
An alien can make a collaterally attack the validity of the underlying deportation order only if the alien has exhausted any administrative remedies that were available and the alien was deprived of any opportunities for judicial review and the entry of the order was fundamentally unfair.
Immigration related offenses such as alien smuggling are serious crimes that require the highest quality legal representation. Ken Swartz is a Miami criminal defense lawyer with many years of experience in representing persons charged with these types of offenses. As a Florida Bar Board Certified expert in criminal trial law, he has represented hundreds of persons charged in federal crimes.