This week, our office participated in webinar concerning smuggling. In the context of naturalization, the issue of smuggling is pertinent to Part 12, Item 30, F, on the N-400 Application for Naturalization, which asks, “Have you EVER helped anyone enter, or try to enter, the United States illegally?” An applicant who answers, “Yes,” to this question could be found inadmissible for smuggling, and thus ineligible to naturalize.
Under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) §212(a)(6)(E)(i);237(a)(1)(E), smuggling is defined as knowingly encouraging, inducing, assisting, abetting or aiding any other alien to enter or try to enter the United states in violation of law.
The webinar included several hypotheticals, which help clarify which acts constitute smuggling:
- Pablo from Honduras has lived in the U.S. for five years. Every month he sent money home to his wife Sofia and son Ernesto. Last month Sofia and Ernesto used some of that money to pay coyotes to lead them through the desert into the U.S. Pablo is currently applying for adjustment as the married son of a U.S. citizen. Is he inadmissible?
No, Pablo is admissible unless he knew Sofia and Ernesto were using the money he sent home to enter the U.S. illegally.
- Graciela has an approved provisional waiver based on hardship to her Legal Permanent Resident spouse. When she goes for her interview, the officer asks her about her first trip to the U.S. in which she entered without inspection in 1989 with her then five-year old son, the now U.S. citizen who has petitioned for her. Is Graciela inadmissible for smuggling?
Yes, Graciela could be found to have smuggled her son into the U.S. in 1989.
- Legal Permanent Resident Grace is originally from Mexico. She frequently goes to her hometown near Tijuana. While in her hometown she allows her friend’s daughter, Juanita, to travel in her car with her U.S. citizen daughter’s birth certificate. Grace’s U.S. citizen husband Bob drove the car across the border with Grace and Juanita in the car. They are stopped by Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Does Grace’s conduct constitute smuggling?
Yes, Grace could be found to have aided in smuggling Juanita into the U.S. illegally.
- Emma, a parolee in the U.S., is married to Mike a U.S. citizen. Emma and Mike frequently went to Mexico. On a return trip from Tijuana to San Diego, Emma and Mike were stopped by CBP because a person was found in the trunk of their car. Mike had allowed his undocumented Mexican friend in the trunk of their car. While Emma knew the person was in the trunk, she did not arrange for him to hide there – her husband did. Is Emma inadmissible for smuggling?
No, Emma is admissible because she did not knowingly smuggle Mike’s undocumented friend. Emma did not make the decision to allow the friend to hide in the trunk.