When alien smuggling is discussed, we might think of a “coyote” guiding a person across the border under cover of complete darkness and no moon. Sure, that happens sometimes, but alien smuggling under federal law is far more expansive than that. A person commits the offense of alien smuggling when he or she knowingly encourages, induces, assists, aids or abets somebody else to enter or try to enter the United States illegally. No financial motive needs to be shown to prove alien smuggling either. An adult might lie about a child’s age or about a child being his or hers. Even an immigration consultant who encourages false or misleading representations on a visa application can be prosecuted and found guilty of knowingly participating in alien smuggling. So can a person who funds a trip to the United States for an illegal alien. Even illegal aiding aliens north of the border is a crime.
Penalties for Alien Smuggling
The criminal penalties for alien smuggling turn on the specific facts of each case. Upon being convicted of the crime, the minimum sentence under federal law is five years in prison with a maximum of 20 years. Most alien smuggling convictions are considered to be aggravated felonies unless it’s on a first offense and it involved transporting a defendant’s spouse, children or parents.
Removal or Inadmissibility for Alien Smuggling
A lawful permanent resident on this side of the border can be subject to removal proceedings for alien smuggling in immigration court, even if no criminal charges are filed and there isn’t a conviction. If that individual is outside of the United States, he or she can be classified as inadmissible. A person who is convicted of alien smuggling might be eligible for cancellation of removal or a waiver of inadmissibility for alien smuggling though, but the three following conditions must be met:
- The person seeking the waiver must be a lawful permanent resident.
- The person he or she was trying to smuggle into the United States was their spouse, parent or child.
- The waiver is warranted by humanitarian reasons, those of family unity or compelling reasons of public interest.
Contact a California Immigration Lawyer.
Alien smuggling is one of the most common immigration crimes that is prosecuted in states that share a common border with Mexico. If you or a family member here in the United States have been notified of removal proceedings, or you’re outside of the United States and inadmissible because of alien smuggling, you’re going to need quality and effective legal help in obtaining a cancellation of removal or a waiver of inadmissibility as a result of alien smuggling. Contact the California Central Valley immigration lawyers at Maison Law Immigration Lawyers for a consultation and case review on the alien smuggling issues that have arisen with your immigration efforts or status. We still want hard working and honest immigrants in our communities who want to become Americans.