Immigration has been all the buzz since Donald Trump assumed office in January 2017. Staunch opponents of Trump’s presidency argue that the number of immigration-related arrests and convictions have been on the rise in recent years, while the number of immigrants who have been denied entry into the U.S. is at an all-time high.
Since the Trump administration adopted quite a few strict measures to prevent immigrants from entering the U.S., some Americans decided to benefit from this situation financially by smuggling illegal immigrants into the U.S.
Unfortunately, illegal and legal immigrants alike are not aware of all the immigration and deportation crimes in Pennsylvania and all across the United States. In fact, you can be charged with an immigration or deportation crime even if you are a U.S. citizen.
We asked our Pittsburgh immigration & deportation crimes attorney from SMT Legal to explain some of the most common immigration crimes in the U.S.
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Under federal law in the U.S., smuggling or attempting to smuggle an alien (foreign individual) into the U.S. is classified as a crime. You can be charged with this crime if you bring or attempt to bring an immigrant across the U.S. border through any place other than a designated port of entry (i.e. border crossing, seaport, airport, etc.), where the immigrant’s documents and immigration status would have to be checked.
Unless an immigrant has been officially admitted into the U.S. through the admission process of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), you can be charged with the “alien smuggling” crime if you smuggle or attempt to smuggle a foreign individual into the country.
Our experienced immigration & deportation crimes attorney in Pittsburgh warns that you do not necessarily have to “bring” or attempt to bring an alien into the U.S. to get in trouble with the law. In addition to the “alien smuggling” crime, the federal law makes it a crime to harbor and transport illegal immigrants.
Thus, you may be charged with a crime for merely transporting an illegal immigrant from one location to another location if you had the knowledge or should have had knowledge of the alien’s plans to enter the U.S. illegally. The same goes for harboring or concealing illegal immigrants. If the prosecutor can prove that you acted with the intent to prevent an illegal immigrant from being discovered by immigration agencies, you may be charged with an immigration crime.
Penalties for immigration crimes depend on the nature of the offense as well as your motivation. Our Pittsburgh immigration and deportation crimes lawyer explains that you will face up to 10 years in prison if your motivation to smuggle an immigrant into the U.S. was for financial gain. In fact, you will face a mandatory minimum jail sentence of three years for bringing or attempting to bring an immigrant across the U.S. border for commercial gain.
However, if the prosecutor fails to establish that your motivation was for financial gain, you will face up to five years in prison for alien smuggling. If another individual sustained a serious bodily injury as a result of your attempt to smuggle an alien, you will face up to 20 years in prison. If someone dies as a result of your smuggling attempt, you may be sentenced to life imprisonment or even face the death sentence.
Given the severity of penalties imposed for immigration and deportation crimes in the United States, you should not hesitate to speak to an experienced criminal defense lawyer in Pittsburgh or elsewhere in Pennsylvania to get the highest quality legal representation. Let’s work on your defense strategy together. Contact SMT Legal for a free case evaluation. Call at 412-765-3345.