This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion
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“Collusion” Found at Lawbreaking Advice Seminars
In the United States, there is a fine line between advocacy for criminal groups and being a criminal yourself. This line is so important that we have the Racketeering and Corrupt Organizations Act, which allows the government to investigate solicitation, conspiracy, and commonality in criminal enterprises across state lines.
Aiding and abetting is the terminology that applies to the advocates of illegal immigrants who are assisting undocumented persons in entering or remaining in the United States. As our nation struggles to deal with the problem of illegal immigration, those who are working against the law are an active threat to the security of our country.
The genesis of this article is a discussion in the “Nation” section of the Altoona Mirror, a local center-left newspaper. In an article picked up from the Associated Press, the Mirror reports that immigration attorneys across the country are holding “Know Your Rights” workshops for illegal migrants.
Lawyers Empowering Illegal Immigrants
One attorney quoted in the article stated that “It’s more about making sure that people feel like they have some power over what is happening in their lives.” This “empowerment” of illegal immigrants is actually a disenfranchisement of millions of Americans, however, who are not receiving critical services because of the massive amount of taxpayer funds that are being spent on illegal aliens in the United States.
Empowering illegal immigrants actually disenfranchises of millions of Americans citizens.
By way of example, tens of thousands of legal Americans live on the streets of Los Angeles while immigration advocates complain that illegal immigrants housed in detention centers at the border lack enough “soap to constitute sanitary conditions.”
The workshops are an active effort to aid lawbreakers in continuing a criminal act, and they need to be stopped.
Aiding and Abetting Defined
So what is aiding and abetting? LegalDictionary.Net defines aiding and abetting as “to actively encourage, to assist, or to support the commission of a criminal act.”
Lassiter Law explains this means when a person…
- Knows about a crime and does nothing to stop it; or
- Helps an individual plan a crime; or
- Commits any action that assists in a crime.
The “Know Your Rights” workshops meet several of these elements of the crime, i.e., that the attorneys participating are aiding and abetting illegal immigration and should at the very least be disbarred.
Lawyers Breaking the Law
First, to argue this matter, we need to establish that there is a crime. In this instance, that is the easy part. Illegal immigration is a crime. Under 8 USC § 1325 (a), the law is as follows:
“Any alien who (1) enters or attempts to enter the United States at any time or place other than as designated by immigration officers, or (2) eludes examination or inspection by immigration officers, or (3) attempts to enter or obtains entry to the United States by a willfully false or misleading representation or the willful concealment of a material fact, shall, for the first commission of any such offense, be fined under title 18 or imprisoned not more than 6 months, or both, and, for a subsequent commission of any such offense, be fined under title 18, or imprisoned not more than 2 years, or both.”
Too often, we focus our examination on §§1, a person attempting to enter the United States. This is a crime and on its own is punishable by up to two years in prison. However, the illegal action of entering in the country has already occurred by the time that the “Know Your Rights” workshop has happened; at worst, the attorneys involved could be charged with accessory after the fact.
However, if we look past §§1 and turn our attention to §§2, the focus seems to change. In §§2, we see “eludes examination or inspection by immigration officers,” which is a continuing crime for any illegal alien in the United States.
As they are fugitives under §§1, their continued presence in the United States is a violation of §§2. This means that at all times that illegal immigrants remain in the United States, they are in the “active commission of a crime.”
Are the Workshops Legal?
Since the attorneys are aware that the group to which they are teaching is comprised mostly of illegal aliens (because that is who they openly market to), there is an ongoing crime to which the attorneys know about being committed by every illegal alien in attendance. Further, as the lawyers are immigration attorneys, there is a reasonable expectation that they understand the law to the point that they know illegal aliens are criminals evading the immigration authorities (i.e., §§2).
Moreover, these attorneys are meeting all three parts of the test described by Lassiter:
- Knowing about a crime and doing nothing to stop it. They know that they are teaching to a room of illegal immigrants and are doing nothing to inform the authorities (in fact, they are hiding the information from the authorities);
- Helping an individual plan a crime. They are actively providing material support to allow illegal individuals in violation of 8USC § 1325 (a) both §§1 and §§2 by being illegally present in the United States and continuing the active process of eluding immigration officials (ICE);
- Committing any action that assists a crime. Both housing illegal immigrants in a location that has been rented for actions in violation of 8 USC § 1325 (a) §§2 and providing material support (education and support) to persons in violation of 8 USC § 1325 (a)§§1 and §§2, are activities that assist in the evasion of ICE officials.
Further, the act of educating people on how to avoid capture and prosecution by lawful immigration authorities goes beyond simple accessory after the fact status by actively encouraging people to stay in the United States through the process.
The Guilty Mind Standard
Even if we assume that the mens rea standard, in this case, is knowingly, the attorneys presenting these seminars exceed that standard. They are purposefully putting these seminars on with the active goal of helping illegal aliens avoid and elude lawful immigration officials in the course of their duties.
According to FederalCharges.com, aiding and abetting carries a slightly less severe penalty than the commission of the actual crime. If we accept this position, which there is no reason not to, an assessment of one year for each individual offense which is committed is a reasonable punishment for the attorneys. This would mean for aiding and abetting 100 people in a “workshop,” an attorney could stand to serve 100 years in prison per workshop.
Given the unlikelihood of prosecution, however, the best we could realistically hope for is that the U.S. Attorney General’s office would put pressure on the state or states concerned to revoke the attorney’s law license. The fact remains that we have dozens of “advocates” actively aiding and abetting the continued commission of crimes in the United States that are costing taxpayers billions of dollars each year. It is time that we say enough is enough; we are a nation of laws, and those who violate the laws ought to be punished under the laws they have violated.