Bringing in and Harboring Illegal Aliens

Criminal Immigration Lawyer in New Jersey

There are many criminal activities that fall under the general category of assisting illegal immigrants. At one extreme of the scale are those who bring in or smuggle an alien into the U.S. without prior authorization. At the other end are those who help in more discreet ways, like referencing an alien to an employer.

Title 1324 of the 8 U.S. code makes it a crime to transporting or smuggling aliens into the U.S. or harboring them there. The provision includes harboring an alien who entered the U.S. legally but has since lost his or her legal status.

Harboring means any conduct that tends to make an alien easier to remain in the U.S. illegally. Harboring and aiding illegal aliens are not protected by the First Amendment, one of the amendments to the U.S. Constitution guaranteeing the rights of free expression and action that are fundamental to democratic government. Moreover, the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRAIRA), enacted September 30, 1996 by Congress changed the immigration laws and encouraged states and local agencies to participate in the process of enforcing federal immigration laws.

The Law Office of Simone Bertollini exists to efficiently assist those struggling to deal with the U.S. immigration system. As a highly-trained New Jersey immigration lawyer and a selectee to the 2015, 2016 and 2017 New Jersey Rising Stars list by Super Lawyers®, I understand how complicated the process can be and I consistently put my experience and expertise to work to resolve immigration issues. Turn to my firm when you are dealing with any sort of immigration issue.

Bringing in, Transporting, & Harboring Aliens

It is often the case that corporations, companies, and individual citizens seize the chance to exploit the illegal status of illegal immigrants for financial gain. However, employers who blatantly ignore workers' illegal status may face serious consequences under 8 USC 1324.

Moreover, transporting is a crime that, by its nature, always has witnesses. Like the persons who provide them assistance, these witnesses are guilty of a crime. Unlike the person accused of transporting them, the witnesses do not always face prosecution, buy may face deportation and be immediately returned to their native countries. A court may order a convicted smuggler to pay restitution if the illegal alien smuggled qualifies as a victim under the Victim and Witness Protection Act.

The following are all prohibited under U.S. criminal immigration law:

  • Bringing undocumented aliens to the U.S. without authorization or prior approval.
  • Transporting illegal immigrants within the U.S.
  • Encouraging foreign nationals to enter the U.S. without authorization.
  • Conspiracy to commit and/or aiding the execution of any of the aforementioned acts.
  • Harboring aliens is any action that can significantly facilitate an alien's capacity to stay in the United States illegally. It is unlawful for anyone to harbor, hide, or shield from detection by any means (including building or motor vehicle) a foreign national who is not a legal resident of the U.S. Even if an alien gained legal entry, once they lose legal status those who help him/her stay can be found guilty of harboring.

Harboring, transporting, or encouraging entry without financial gain carries a maximum sentence of five years imprisonment. Conspiracy to commit any of these crimes, committing any of these crimes for financial gain, and bringing aliens to the United States carry a penalty of up to ten years of imprisonment.

Any conveyance, including any vessel, vehicle, or aircraft, that has been used in the commission of a violation of 8 U.S.C. 1324, the gross proceeds of such violation, and any property traceable to such conveyance or proceeds, shall be seized and subject to forfeiture.

Provisions under 8 USC 1324

(i) Anyone who knowingly brings or attempts to bring an alien into the U.S. at a place other than a designated port of entry is guilty.

The guilty party will be imprisoned for up to 10 years or up to 20 years if during and in relation to the offense the person causes serious bodily injury or puts in jeopardy the life of any person. The penalty may be death, if any death resulted.

(ii) A person knowing or in or in reckless disregard that an alien has come to, entered, or remained in the U.S. in violation of law and thereafter transports or moves or attempts to move that alien within the U.S., in any way, in furtherance of that alien’s violation of law is guilty.

The penalties are up to 5 years, 10 if done for private financial gain or commercial advantage or up to 20 years if during and in relation to the offense the person causes serious bodily injury or puts in jeopardy the life of any person. The penalty may be death, if any death resulted.

(iii) A person is guilty if they act in knowing or reckless disregard of the fact that an alien has come to, entered, or remained in the U.S. in violation of law, and thereafter conceals, harbors, shields from detection or attempts to do any of the foregoing.

The penalties are up to 5 years, 10 if done for private financial gain or commercial advantage or up to 20 years if during and in relation to the offense the person causes serious bodily injury or puts in jeopardy the life of any person. The penalty may be death, if any death resulted.

(iv) A person who encourages or induces an alien to come to, enter, or reside in the U.S., knowing that such coming to, entry, or residence is in violation of law.

The guilty parties will be punished to up to 5 years, 10 if the offense is done for private financial gain or commercial advantage or up to 20 years if during and in relation to the offense the person causes serious bodily injury or puts in jeopardy the life of any person. The penalty may be death, if any death resulted.

Employing Aliens & Bringing in Aliens for Employment

It is unlawful to hire an alien, to recruit an alien, or to refer an illegal alien for a fee, knowing the illegal alien is unauthorized to work in the United States. It is equally unlawful to continue to employ an illegal alien knowing that the illegal alien is unauthorized to work.

Under title 8 USC 1324 (a)(3)(A), employers are expressly prohibited from hiring at least ten aliens during any one year period knowing that they are undocumented. This offense carries a five year maximum sentence. The maximum sentence in these cases may also be increased to a maximum of 10 years if an offense was part of ongoing commercial enterprise in which groups of aliens were transported in a manner that endangered their lives.

Under 8 USC 1324 (a)(1)(C), it is also illegal for nonprofit or religious organizations to knowingly assist an employer to violate employment sanctions, regardless of claims that their convictions require them to assist illegal aliens. It is a violation of the title for religious denomination having a bona fide nonprofit, religious organization, or the agents or officers of such denomination or organization, to encourage or enable an alien, present in the U.S., to perform the vocation of a minister or missionary as a volunteer who is not compensated as an employee, notwithstanding the provision of room, board, travel, medical assistance, and other basic living expenses, provided the minister or missionary has been a member of the denomination for at least one year.

8 USC 1324 and living with an illegal alien

Merely living with an illegal alien is unlikely to be held a violation of 8 USC 1324. In United States v. Costello, 666 F.3d 1040, 1050 (7th Cir. 2012), Judge Posner concluded:

"Our rejection of equating harboring to providing a place to stay compels the acquittal of the defendant, for on our understanding of the offense no trier of fact could reasonably find that the defendant had "harbored" her boyfriend based on the stipulated facts, or that she had concealed him or shielded him from detection."

While this decision is only binding in the Seventh Circuit, Judge Posner also noted that: "in the only case we've found in which the government prosecuted, for harboring, someone who had merely cohabited with a known illegal alien, United States v. Silveus, 542 F.3d 993, 1003–04 (3d Cir.2008), the government conceded that cohabitation, without more, is not harboring, and the court reversed the defendant's harboring conviction."

If you have been charged with Harboring an Illegal Alien, you need to speak to a New Jersey Immigration Attorney immediately to prepare your defense.

You can contact us or you can fill out a case evaluation form on our website.

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