Houston Federal Alien Smuggling Lawyer


With its close proximity to the Mexican-American border, Houston sees quite a few arrests for alien smuggling. This illegal activity is a federal offense that is outlined in Title 8 of the U.S. Code.

Alien Smuggling May Consist Of These Actions:

  • Bringing in aliens at any place other than a port of entry
  • Transporting or moving aliens
  • Harboring, protecting, or concealing aliens
  • Encouraging aliens to come to the United States

Alien Smuggling Penalties

The penalties related to alien smuggling may involve two to 20 years in prison. The exact duration of a sentence depends on the nature of the offense. According to the U.S. Code, these extenuating circumstances can cause an individual to receive a harsher sentence:

  • Smuggling or harboring an illegal alien for financial gain
  • Endangering another person’s life due to smuggling
  • Having previously been charged with alien smuggling

The penalties for alien smuggling are very harsh. An alien smuggling attorney can effectively help a defendant fight his charges and keep him from suffering any unnecessary consequences.

Affirmative Defense On Religious Grounds

Those who are charged with concealing or transporting an illegal alien may have an affirmative defense if they belong to a non-profit religious organization. In that instance, a religious leader could be authorized to provide food or shelter for aliens without fear of repercussion, as long as that individual has been a part of the organization for at least a year. This affirmative defense does not apply in instances that involve illegal smuggling across the border.

People who are charged with alien smuggling might also have an affirmative defense if they did not know they were acting outside the law. Since many smuggling crimes require the prosecutor to prove intent, this element can sometimes be mitigated if the alien and his or her handler conspired to involve uninterested third parties in the smuggling operation. For the best outcome, it is important to have a Houston criminal defense lawyer on your side.


Attorney James Alston has a clear advantage when it comes to defending clients against alien smuggling charges. He is a former assistant United States attorney and has prosecuted smuggling cases in the past. Mr. Alston is also a board-certified Houston criminal defense lawyer and a member of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.