When people hear the word “smuggling,” they often think of goods, not people. However, under U.S. law, it is possible to engage in the smuggling of human beings. Some believe that paying someone else to get over the border gives the enterprise a veneer of legitimacy, but the truth is that smuggling is still a crime. Additionally, if you trust the wrong person, you could wind up deported or even stuck with a permanent bar.
"People Smuggling" Defined
While most would equate smuggling people to human trafficking, the two are not the same under United States law. Human trafficking takes place when people are captured or otherwise persuaded against their will into forced labor (often prostitution). The smuggling of people (most often immigrants) is done with a person’s full consent and willing participation. Also, very often, the profits come from different methods: smuggling is a paid transaction, while trafficking is exploiting unwilling victims.
Smuggling can be very amateurish or it can be well-connected. The Mexico-U.S. border is one of the busiest smuggling areas in the world, and most who are smuggled through it engage the services of individuals known as coyotes to help them navigate. The practices of these people, referred to as coyotaje in Spanish, are sharp in the extreme, and often result in immigrants paying exorbitant sums for the privilege of traveling through dangerous areas with someone who may or may not double-cross them.
Under U.S. law, trafficking victims are “survivors,” while those who engage in human smuggling are active participants in a crime. Someone who commits a crime to gain access to the United States may face severe and lasting immigration consequences, even if he or she is not jailed.
The consequences of alien smuggling are real, both for the smuggler and the smuggled. If you enter the United States without inspection, it does not matter how you did it—you are in the country unlawfully and will be subject to detention and deportation unless you can win cancellation of removal. There is simply no truth to the idea that paying someone to get you there lends you any validity. Also, if you attempt to re-enter the country after being deported once, you will almost certainly be permanently barred from then on.
For the smuggler, however, the consequences can be even more dire. Section 274 (A)(1)(a) of the Immigration & Nationality Act provides for stiff penalties for anyone bringing in an undocumented alien, regardless of familial or professional relationship. The most common sentence is a 10-year prison term, which is multiplied by each alien smuggled past the U.S. border. The smuggler does not have to incur any kind of financial gain in order for it to be smuggling; the law is broad, and basically any kind of aid to someone wanting to enter the U.S. without inspection will be touched by it.
Get Help to Do it Right
If you are in the United States after being smuggled, or if you have engaged in human smuggling, having a professional on your side is essential. Contact the Chicago immigration attorneys at Mevorah Law Offices LLC, and we will do our best to fight for your future. Our office is open at reasonable hours, and the first consultation is free.
Whether you are going through a divorce, injured in an accident, need to file a workers' compensation claim, charged with a crime, immigrating to the United States, or need to file for bankruptcy, Mevorah Law Offices LLC can help. Our trial lawyers have over 35 years of experience helping clients throughout Northern Illinois from five offices in Lombard, Bloomindale, Joliet, St. Charles, and Chicago.
Steven Mevorah has assembled experienced attorneys under one roof so that his clients need not search for a new attorney each time they need help. Mr. Mevorah has also established a wide network of additional attorneys so that his clients merely need to stop by Mevorah Law Offices LLC to find the attorney they need.
Our practice is focused on meeting your needs with flexible hours and locations to serve you: