Is Human Smuggling A State or Federal Crime in Texas?
At more than 1,200 miles, Texas has the longest border with Mexico than any other state in the country. Although concerns about illegal immigration are largely a federal matter, state lawmakers and residents in many ways see it as a state issue as well. So, it begs the question: when is human smuggling a state or federal crime in Texas?
The short answer is the fate of a person who smuggles illegal immigrants, or people who have entered the country without prior authorization from the U.S. government, largely depends on the law enforcement agencies involved in the arrest and the severity of the crime.
State Human Smuggling Laws
The Texas Penal Code considers the smuggling of persons as a felony and defines it in three different ways.
First, it is when you use a vehicle to transport a person into the country illegally and also use that vehicle to hide the person from government authorities.
Second, human smuggling is when you assist, guide, or direct two or more people across private land without the owner’s consent.
Lastly, human smuggling is when you encourage or force a person to stay in the country illegally and hide them from authorities.
The law, which was recently updated, makes human smuggling a felony and you could be sentenced to prison for two years to life, but the degree of felony depends on the safety of the victim. If the smuggled person is unharmed, it is a third-degree felony, but it is a second- or first-degree felony if the victim is injured, sexually assaulted, or killed.
Federal Human Smuggling Laws
While state human smugglings are largely covered in one statute, federal laws make each element its own statute. These include:
Immigrant Smuggling - This is when you bring an immigrant into the country through an area other than a port of entry. It does not matter if the alien received authorization beforehand.
Domestic Transportation - As the name implies, it is transporting an illegal immigrant inside the country.
Harboring - This is when you hide or conceal illegal immigrants from government authorities.
Encouraging/Inducing - This is when you encourage a person to come or stay in the country illegally.
If you are convicted of violating the alien smuggling law, you could face up to 10 years in prison. And, if you are convicted of other smuggling laws, you could face between five and 10 years in prison. The sentence is extended if the victim is harmed or you have prior convictions.
Contact A Federal Human Smuggling Defense Attorney
Alien smuggling, whether it is a state or federal crime, is a serious offense. If you are arrested for any smuggling crime, contact a seasoned San Antonio criminal defense attorney. For 20 years, Sam H. Lock has provided defense in a variety of sensitive cases. For a free consultation, call 210-226-0965.