Welcome to the sixth and final piece in the series on the history of and facts behind American immigration. For six weeks, Liberty Nation author Kelli Ballard has examined a contentious issue related to today’s hottest topic. In part five, we charted the changing feelings on immigrants and immigration.
Illegal immigration is a serious issue that plagues not only the United States but also other countries around the world. As migrants traveling in large caravans leave their homelands, tensions rise, citizens are divided, and national security is threatened. Many on the left call for open borders, and some, such as George Soros, even provide financial help to assist aliens crossing the border illegally. Is it a crime to assist illegal immigrants? Scott Warren of Arizona will soon find out as he faces another trial on two counts of harboring aliens.
When Humanitarianism Becomes a Crime
Warren belongs to No More Deaths, a group that provides water and medical aid in the desert for migrants. The humanitarian bunch came under scrutiny after an anonymous phone call suggested suspicious activity in the club’s building, known as The Barn. When border agents investigated, they found a man who claimed to have traveled across the border with two others, the three of them picked up by a van. Agents went to The Barn on Jan. 17, 2018, and arrested Warren and two migrant men from Central America.
Prosecutors claim Warren helped the illegals to avoid authorities, and that since the immigrants were never in distress, this was not a humanitarian action. They said Warren also gave the men instructions on how to avoid a Border Patrol checkpoint.
Warren went to court earlier this year and faces a second trial on Nov. 19 since the first ended with a jury deadlock.
According to U.S. Code § 1324, bringing in and harboring aliens is a crime, and can be defined by several examples, such as:
“knowing or in reckless disregard of the fact that an alien has come to, entered, or remains in the United States in violation of law, conceals, harbors, or shields from detection, or attempts to conceal, harbor, or shield from detection, such alien in any place, including any building or any means of transportation…”
Another section of the 1986 law makes it clear that just encouraging immigrants to enter or stay in the United States is a crime:
“Any person who ‘encourages or induces an alien to come to, enter, or reside in the United States, knowing or in reckless disregard of the fact that such coming to, entry, or residence is or will be in violation of the law.’”
How many progressives, including politicians, could be considered guilty of this? Recently, though, this particular section of the code has come under inquiry and will soon be visited by the courts to determine if it is an infringement on First Amendment rights.
Solicitor General Noel J. Francisco petitioned the Supreme Court, seeking a review of the law. He and others claim that the literal language suggests that, as the code currently stands, just telling family members or friends that they should stay in the United States is illegal. “Just as a teenager does not aid, abet or solicit marijuana possession merely by saying to a friend, ‘I encourage you to try smoking pot,’” he wrote, a grandmother is not violating the law “merely by saying to her grandson whose visa has expired, I encourage you to stay.”
A judicial review of the section does not necessarily mean it will be terminated. It can be argued that it is vague and leaves room for questioning if First Amendment rights are being violated. However, it is important to provide some clarity on the fact that encouraging aliens to come to or stay in the United States illegally, whether by offering financial aid or other assistance, is a punishable crime.
Read more from Kelli Ballard.