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Giving a Ride to Illegal Immigrants

Beware who you give rides to. I had a client of mine who several years ago was detained by customs and border protection because he had illegal immigrants in his car. It just so happens that he was driving from Houston, Texas to Miami and he met a couple of guys at a gas station that needed a ride. My client felt bad for them and gave them a ride. As they were driving through Mobile Alabama a police officer pulled him over. The cop did not really have any probable cause to stop him and he did not issue the ticket. The only reason he stopped him was because he saw there were several people in the car and they looked like immigrants. In the car there was my client, of Cuban descent and his friend who was also Cuban. In the back seat there were the two Hispanic Latin American men who asked for the ride. The cop asked for everyone's identification; again, only the driver needs to identify himself to the police officer, but since the guys in the back had no I.D. the cop ordered my client to follow him and he took them to a CBP (Customs and Border Enforcement) facility where the two rear passengers were arrested for being illegally in the United States, my client's car was seized, my client and his friend were interrogated and then they were released.

What a lot of people are not aware of is that under Federal Statute 8 U.S. Code Section 1324, titled Bringing in and harboring certain aliens, it is illegal to knowingly or in reckless disregard to transport an illegal alien. What this means is that if you give a ride to someone who is in the United States illegally, then you could be charged with transporting illegal aliens; such a federal violation could lead to fines and up to five years imprisonment. Additionally, if you give shelter (let an illegal immigrant sleep in your home) you are also violating the law. The exception to this law is if you are a religious organization that is helping immigrants.

Worse still, if you are not a U.S. Citizen you could lose your U.S. Residency and be placed in deportation proceedings for transporting illegal aliens at worst, and at best you could never be a U.S. Citizen because if you apply for your citizenship the officer can recommend you to go before a deportation judge. Therefore, please do not give rides to people you do not know and if you do, then know that you are subjecting yourself to a lot of federal crimes; in such case the best thing is not to say anything and remain silent until you speak to an attorney that can help you.


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