Unlawful Entry into the United States
Unlawful entry involves an alien who enters, or attempts to enter, the United States by avoiding examination or inspection by immigration officers, attempting to enter or obtain entry to the United States under false pretenses.
- When is Best Time to Act?:
When detained for illegal entry individuals are arrested and placed in a detention facility. At this time, the alleged offender will most likely be forced to contend with removal/deportation proceedings and the underlying criminal offense. The complicated nature of immigration charges and ancillary deportation/removal proceedings makes obtaining experienced immigration crimes defense counsel an imperative for reducing risk and increasing the chances of a favorable outcome.
- Types of Crimes & Charges:
Unlawful entry can involve an individual who enters the United States secretly or one who enters the country through immigration inspection, but uses false pretenses to obtain entry. Unlawful entry can also involve misrepresenting information to obtain a visa to enter the United States, or using a fraudulent scheme to obtain immigration benefits such as engaging in a “sham marriage” to a United States citizen to enter the country.
- Criminal Schemes:
Schemes related to unlawful entry can involve orchestrated attempts to bring foreign nationals into the country secretly such as in the case of human traffickers or smugglers. Schemes that are more sophisticated involve the use of fraudulent documents or arrangements such as sham marriages or businesses to enter the country under a visa program.
- Related Crimes:
Unlawful entry can involve a number of related crimes including fraud related to immigration documents or aiding and abetting illegal immigration and human smuggling for those involved assisting with the act of illegal entry.
8 USCS § 1325 outlines the elements of the crime of improper entry: § 1325. Improper entry by alien(a) Improper time or place; avoidance of examination or inspection; misrepresentation and concealment of facts. Any alien who (1) enters or attempts to enter the United States at any time or place other than as designated by immigration officers, or (2) eludes examination or inspection by immigration officers, or (3) attempts to enter or obtains entry to the United States by a willfully false or misleading representation or the willful concealment of a material fact, shall, for the first commission of any such offense, be fined under title 18, United States Code, or imprisoned not more than 6 months, or both, and, for a subsequent commission of any such offense, be fined under title 18, United States Code, or imprisoned not more than 2 years, or both.
- Penalties & Punishment:
An individual who attempts to enter or obtains entry to the United States by a willfully false or misleading representation or the willful concealment of a material fact, shall, for the first commission of any such offense, shall be fined imprisoned not more than 6 months, or both, and, for a subsequent commission of any such offense, be fined or imprisoned not more than 2 years, or both (8 USCS § 1325). For any alien who is apprehended while entering (or attempting to enter) the United States at a time or place other than as designated by immigration officers shall be subject to a civil penalty of (1) at least $ 50 and not more than $ 250 for each such entry (or attempted entry); or (2) twice the amount specified in paragraph (1) in the case of an alien who has been previously subject to a civil penalty under this subsection. Marriage fraud. Any individual who knowingly enters into a marriage for the purpose of evading any provision of the immigration laws shall be imprisoned for not more than 5 years, or fined not more than $ 250,000, or both. Immigration-related entrepreneurship fraud. Any individual who knowingly establishes a commercial enterprise for the purpose of evading any provision of the immigration laws shall be imprisoned for not more than 5 years, fined in accordance with title 18, United States Code, or both. (8 USCS § 1325).
- Successful Defense:
Defense to unlawful entry often involve challenging the intent the accused possessed when making a misrepresentation or attempted to enter the country without legal authorization.
- High Profile/ Govt. cases:
According to Federal prosecution data, the largest percentage of federal immigration law prosecutions were prosecutions for illegal entry under 8 USC 1325, which made up 55 percent of immigration prosecutions during FY 2013 or 53, 789 prosecutions a jump of 12% from the previous year.