Law enforcement officials look for signs of possible human smuggling activities, which may include individuals traveling with migrants on the Texas side of the border. The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s website notes that smuggling typically occurs when individuals agree to transport immigrants in exchange for money.
Undocumented migrants may offer commercial operators cash to sit inside tractor-trailers. When they lack the necessary visas to enter the U.S., they may also offer drivers generous fees for a ride in their cars or buses.
Charges may no longer require proof of receiving money
According to The Center Square, Texas no longer requires prosecutors to prove defendants provided transportation to undocumented migrants in exchange for cash. As of September 22, 2021, Texas Senate Bill 576 allows prosecutors to file and convict individuals of human smuggling charges without proving financial gain.
When prosecutors can prove that a transportation incident did involve money, the court may enhance the penalties. To curb smuggling attempts, Border Patrol agents may stop commercial truck drivers at checkpoints and search their trailers.
Hiring or housing undocumented migrants may lead to charges
Business owners may face allegations of human smuggling if their migrant employees do not hold the required work visas. Officials may investigate a company’s practices if it appears migrants provide their labor as payment for transportation. Workers living in overcrowded housing conditions may also raise suspicions of human smuggling.
Lone Star State residents may face felony charges if officials allege human smuggling. Providing a ride to an undocumented immigrant in Texas, even without an exchange of cash, may result in allegations of human smuggling. Lacking sufficient proof of knowledge or intent, however, the prosecution may find it difficult to obtain a conviction.