alien smuggling

Controversial Texas Alien Smuggling Law is Reinstated

By Peek & Toland on June 26, 2017

A controversial alien smuggling law that brings harsh penalties against people who harbor undocumented immigrants has been reinstated by the courts.

Earlier this year, the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned an injunction by a lower court. The decision reinstated Texas’ unlawful immigrant harboring law, reported Breitbart.

A three-judge panel rejected the claims of the plaintiffs. Landlords said renting out houses or providing social services to undocumented immigrants could put them at risk of action. By not suffering a detriment, they lose legal standing to bring a court action.

A court has reinstated Texas' alien smuggling law

Texas alien smuggling law is reinstated in court

U.S. Circuit Judge Jerry E. Smith said there was no reasonable interpretation to claim the act of renting housing or providing social services to an unlawful immigrants constituted harboring them from detection.

The case was brought by two Texas landlords. The judge ruled they lacked standing because they were not able to show how the law put them at risk of prosecution, Courthouse News Service reported.

Texas House Bill 11 enacted in 2015 made it a third-degree felony to “harbor” an immigrant. The offense is punishable by two to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

The landlords from San Antonio claimed the Texas law was unreasonable and unconstitutional. They rely on rental property income to pay the mortgages on the properties and support themselves.

They were joined in opposing the legislation by Jonathan Ryan who heads up the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES).

The center provides affordable and free services to refugees. It also provides short-term shelters for refugees on bond from immigration detention centers.

Concerns over the Alien Smuggling Provisions

The plaintiffs filed an action in San Antonio federal court last January stating they feared criminal prosecution under Texas’ harboring law. A year ago, a federal judge allowed their motion for a preliminary injunction.

The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, which also sued to challenge the harboring provision, took some solace in the judge’s comments.

Nina Perales, MALDEF vice president for litigation, said the court ruled the landlords were not harboring undocumented immigrants under the terms of the statute.

In the wake of the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals hearing, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said the ruling will allow the state to enforce the alien smuggling law and fight the smuggling of “illegal contraband.”

The Texas immigrant harboring legislation is controversial. Opponents claims it infringes on the U.S. Constitution’s Supremacy Clause because enforcement of immigration is a federal area of responsibility. It also raises concerns that family members may who take in undocumented immigrants could be accused of alien smuggling and hit with heavy sentences.

If you are accused of violating immigration or criminal laws, please contact our Austin family immigration attorneys here.

Posted in Cancellation of Removal, Immigration

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Soldiers Are Accused of Alien Smuggling into the US

By Peek & Toland on November 3, 2016

Alien smuggling is seldom out of the headlines. Federal authorities are looking into claims that active duty soldiers were running an operation in Texas.

The authorities are looking into an illegal immigrant smuggling operation allegedly ran out of Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas by soldiers, reported KFox14.

soldiers are accused of alien smuggling from Mexico

The Mexican border at Tijuana

El Paso Intelligence Center (EPIC), a federal tactical operational intelligence center, is headquartered at Fort Bliss.

The report said two U.S. soldiers, Marco Antonio Nava, Jr. and Joseph Cleveland, were recently arrested at a checkpoint and accused of trying to smuggle two Mexican citizens into the United States. The citizens were in the back seat of their car, the report stated.

The soldiers were reported to be with 377 TC Company at Ft. Bliss. They were not wearing military uniforms at the time.

The report claimed there is a possible smuggling ring at Fort Bliss involving other soldiers. It suggested soldiers were paid $1,000 cash for each successful smuggling trip and they dropped the Mexicans off at a house north of Houston.

Border patrol agents started investigating the activities of the soldiers over the summer, the report stated.

Alien smuggling is dealt with as a federal offense. Our Austin immigrant smuggling defense lawyers represent people charged with these crimes.

Alien smuggling is taken very seriously and can have terrible consequences. In September, a former fugitive was sentenced to three terms of life in prison after pleading guilty in an alien smuggling conspiracy. The operation resulted in two deaths and kidnapping.

Noe Aranda-Soto, of San Carlos, Michoacan, Mexico, a former fugitive who was living in Texas, admitted conspiracy to transport aliens for private financial gain resulting in death. He also pled guilty to kidnapping resulting in death, use of a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence resulting in death.

Alien smuggling is dealt with under the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act. (I.N.A.). This is a broad crime. It can be a crime to bring an undocumented immigrant into the country irrespective of whether the alleged smuggler is making a profit.

In some cases, a family member may not be aware he or she could face severe criminal sanctions.

If you have been charged with alien smuggling in Texas, you should hire an immigration and criminal lawyer as soon as possible. Call us today at (512) 474-4445.

Posted in Immigration

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