Did you know that it is a crime to bring in and harbor certain undocument immigrants within the United States? In fact, any person who brings or tries to bring in a person anywhere other than a designated port of entry can be penalized. You can also be penalized for knowing and disregarding that someone has come to the United States in violation of the law.
There are many other situations that qualify for criminal penalties. Some of these include:
- Knowing and recklessly disregarding that you are moving an undocumented immigrant in violation of the law
- Knowing and disregarding that you are housing someone who is in the United States unlawfully
- Encouraging anyone to enter the United States or live in the United States in violation of law
- Aiding or abetting any of these acts
- Engaging in the conspiracy to commit these acts
How can you be punished for bringing in or harboring an undocumented immigrant?
The penalties vary based on the exact situation. The more severe crimes are protecting undocumented immigrants from detection and encouraging entrance to the United States illegally. Regardless, for any crime, there is a potential fine and sentence. More serious penalties, such as encouraging entry into the United States illegally, can be penalized with up to 20 years in prison. If anyone dies while taking part in these activities, those who are being charged are threatened with the death sentence or life imprisonment, depending on the state.
On top of the penalties, you should know that there are seizure and forfeiture rules that apply to these cases. In general, any kind of transportation vehicle used to transport undocumented immigrants can be seized.
Stay on the right side of the law
Although the reality is that many people come to America to build a better life and escape the situations they're going through in their own countries, they still need to come to the United States through a legal port of entry. If they want to file for refugee status or seek asylum, that is a possibility at the border. If you harbor someone who has come through other methods, you could get caught up in serious trouble with the law and face many years, potentially decades, in prison.
If this happens to you, your good intentions may not matter to the court. It's best to stay out of these situations and to let them be handled by the authorities.