Federal Immigration Violations

Under federal law, it is unlawful for any alien who has been denied admission, deported, or removed from the country to enter or attempt to enter the United States. The government is generally not required to show that an alien knew re-entry was against the law. It is normally enough for a conviction to show that the alien simply re-entered the country voluntarily. The exception to this law is if the Attorney General expressly consented to the alien’s reapplication for admission, or if the alien was not required to obtain advance consent. A conviction may result in a sentence of up to two years in prison and a fine.

The sentence imposed may be increased based on the alien’s past criminal record. For instance, an alien who was convicted of a felony or three or more misdemeanors involving drugs or violence after his removal may be sentenced up to 10 years. If he is convicted of an aggravated felony after his removal, a sentence of 20 years may be imposed. An alien removed on grounds relating to terroristic activities who then re-enters faces a possible 10-year sentence. If the alien was removed after being convicted of certain nonviolent offenses and then returns prior to completing the sentence, he may receive a sentence of up to 10 years.

Transporting, harboring, or encouraging an illegal alien to remain in the country are also crimes. It is illegal for a person to know (or recklessly disregard) that an alien has entered or remains in the United States illegally, and then to transport or attempt to transport the alien within the country. It is also illegal for a person to have this knowledge and to conceal, harbor, or shield an alien from detection in any place such as a building, or by means of transportation. Encouraging or inducing an alien to come to, enter, or reside in the United States is also a crime when the person knows or recklessly disregards the fact that entry is illegal.