How to Shut Down Human Smugglers? Follow the Money and Enforce the Law
In 2014, an emotional Vice President Joe Biden, speaking in Guatemala, denounced, “smugglers [who] routinely engage in physical and sexual abuse of innocent young women and men. They profit from the misery of these desperate, desperate young people.”
Today, on President Biden’s watch, more minors (and adults) than ever are being smuggled across America’s southern border. And while the federal government prosecutes a fraction of illegal transporters, people who pay these criminal enterprises typically get away scot-free.
Mirtha Veronica Nava-Martinez and Patricia Elizabeth Salmeron Santos personify the problem in one case. As detailed by Andrew Arthur of the Center for Immigration Studies:
Nava-Martinez, a lawful permanent resident of the U.S., pleaded guilty in federal court to smuggling a 10-year-old Salvadoran girl into this country. But, noted U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen, “The conspiracy started when Salmeron Santos solicited human traffickers to smuggle the girl [her daughter],” agreeing to pay $8,500.
Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials were notified that Salmeron Santos initiated this illegal conduct. Yet instead of rounding up Salmeron Santos for prosecution, DHS simply delivered the child to her, successfully completing the criminal conspiracy.
At last report, Salmeron Santos, an illegal alien, and her daughter continue to reside in the United States.
This willfully blind miscarriage of justice occurred in 2013, a year before Biden’s apparently heartfelt pronouncements in Guatemala. But by all accounts, enforcement remains sketchy — even though federal law holds that anyone who “aids, abets, counsels, commands, induces or procures” an offense against the United States is as liable as an individual who commits that offense.
A smuggler who “brings to or attempts to bring to the United States [an alien] at a place other than a designated port of entry” commits a felony. Thus, persons who pay smugglers are breaking the law.
“Smuggling of migrants and the activities related to it cost many people their lives and generate billions of dollars in profit for criminals,” according to a United Nations report, which cited payments for passage ranging up to $10,000. As migrant deaths soar along smuggling corridors, the lucrative nature of the business was highlighted last week when three Chinese nationals said they paid smugglers $35,000 each to sneak into Texas.
Although Biden & Co. remain lackadaisical about accessories to the transport of illegal aliens, it is encouraging that Florida is impaneling a statewide grand jury to follow the money and turn up the heat.
Anti-smuggling laws are on the books. They need to be enforced to the fullest extent.