Smuggling, Transporting, and Harboring an Illegal Alien

8 U.S.C. § 1234 addresses smuggling, transporting, and/or harboring unlawful aliens. This statute is the framework for penalties for bringing into the country, employing, or harboring someone unlawfully in this country. A conviction for violating 8 USC § 1234 can result in fines, incarceration, and in extreme cases, death if someone dies because of your actions.

If you have been charged with any of these federal crimes, call the Zoukis Consulting Group. We will defend your rights in court and work to get you the most favorable outcome.

Smuggling, Transporting, and Harboring

Being convicted of this law can result in significant fines and jail time. Here is the statute explained.

A Political Issue 

The plight of illegal aliens has been a hot political issue for upwards of 30 years. Because of that, laws like 8 U.S.C. § 1234 have been passed and enacted, but enforcement has varied. In the current environment, a violation will likely lead to prosecution.

A Very Broad Statute

As a guideline, 8 USC § 1234 is both broad and ambitious. It seeks to provide an all-encompassing statute that covers anything related to illegal aliens and human trafficking. Application of the law functions under a tiered administrative structure that works on a point system. The number of points a defendant racks up based on the charges and a conviction prescribes maximum penalties of 10 and 20 years in prison, life in prison, and the death penalty.

The statute covers:

Alien Smuggling

Smuggling someone unlawfully in this country entails knowingly bringing them into the country in any manner other than a legal port of entry. It does not matter if the alien is eligible to become a citizen.

Domestic Transportation

This part of the law covers knowing or acting in “reckless disregard” for the status of an alien that has entered the United States of America illegally, hiding them from law enforcement and transporting them anywhere within the United States.


Harboring an illegal alien is exactly what it sounds like: Providing any type of refuge for someone that is unlawfully in the United States. This includes hiding someone unlawfully in the United States of America, concealing them, or shielding them from discovery and/or detention. This part of the statute covers attempts to do so as well.

Encouragement to Break the Law

Anyone that facilitates, advertises services for, or otherwise promotes illegal entry into the United States of America is guilty of this part of the statute. Providing incentives such as promised work in an attempt to induce someone to enter the country illegally is covered under this section.


Per federal law, conspiracy is when two or more people coordinate to commit a federal crime. In this case, it would apply to two or more people coordinating to violate 8 USC § 1234.

Facilitating Illegal Entry

To violate this part of the statute, you would have to attempt to bring in an illegal alien. This section covers knowingly trying to get an unlawful alien to enter the country illegally. It includes trying to sneak an unlawful alien past a standard entry point or checkpoint.

Employing Unlawful Aliens

You can be charged under this part of the law if you knowingly hired at least 10 people who had entered the country illegally. The penalties for this can include seizure of assets and forfeiture of your business. 

Penalties for Illegal Alien Crimes

As mentioned, this statute functions under a tiered-point framework. Points are accumulated for infractions. The more points you accumulate, the more severe the charges and penalties. 

The lowest maximum number of years of potential incarceration is five if a person induces or knowingly conceals or harbors someone unlawfully in the country. 

The most severe is life in prison, or if applicable, death if a person is killed because of activities pertaining to aiding or abetting someone unlawfully in the USA.

Fines can be included with any incarceration penalty or serve as the penalty. Forfeiture of assets is also possible, particularly assets tied to transporting, concealing, harboring, or aiding someone unlawfully in the USA.

We Will Defend You Against Your Illegal Alien Smuggling Charges 

Understanding how illegal alien crimes are defined and the penalties involved will give you a strong sense of where your case could be headed. Because of the complexity of the law and the severity of the penalties for violating 8 U.S.C. § 1234, you must have as strong a legal and incarceration team behind you as possible.

Our defense lawyers at the Zoukis Consulting Group are ready to defend you against your charges in court. The right defense team can make all the difference when it comes to your sentencing.

Call us today to schedule your initial consultation and get started on your defense.