I imagine that most of us have been pulled over by a police officer at some point while behind the wheel of our car. Maybe that speed limit suddenly changed after you crossed into the limits of a small town in which traffic tickets pay for the mayor's salary. Or, you could have been driving with a broken tail light and not even been aware that you were not signaling when making a turn. But, usually, these moments of reprimand by law enforcement only result in some damage to your pocketbook ... they do not result in federal charges. If, on the other hand, you decide to transport human beings illegally from one country to another and you get caught, you will be facing more than a $50 ticket and verbal lashing from a member of the police force.
Joe Allen Foster, of Houston, pleaded guilty yesterday to a federal charge of transporting undocumented immigrants. He was stopped by a U.S. Border Patrol agent while traveling through southern Mississippi last October. The agent discovered that Foster had fifteen passengers in his van, none of whom had proper documentation. All of these passengers had hoped that various cities in the East Coast would be their final destination.
Foster now faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Perhaps this will serve as a warning to others -- a drive south of the border to pick up a van load of people is no way to make extra money in this tough economy.
If border agents have made the accusation that the passengers who joined you in your van for a recent, innocent trip to movies are in this country illegally, you will need legal assistance. Bertolino LLP has attorneys who practice in the area of criminal defense and can help. Or, if you are fighting to prove your legal status in this country, our Austin, San Antonio or Houston immigration lawyers can provide their expertise to you. Contact our immigration attorneys in Austin, Houston, or San Antonio office today and let's see what we can do.