US Citizen Caught Crossing Border Illegally
WESLACO – A man who was initially charged with entering the country outside of a designated crossing point was in court this week.
It's a charge normally assigned to immigrants, but the man in question is a U.S. Citizen.
Normally, those charged with illegal entry are charged with violating 8 USC 1325; Juan Jose Delgado was charged in 2016 with 19 USC 1459(a)(1), which is an illegal entry by a U. S. citizen charge.
Jaime Diez, an immigration attorney, explains this is not a felony charge, but it is still a federal crime.
"It is for entering the U.S. through a place other than a place that is designated for you to enter – in this case, a port of entry."
Diez says the reasons for avoiding federal officers at crossing points can vary.
Sometimes, it's poor judgement.
"Many years ago, there was somebody who tried to cross, who was a U.S. citizen. Because he had no passport, he tried to cross through the river. In that case, the person died," Diez explains.
Other times, the U.S. Citizen could have an outstanding warrant for their arrest, could be bringing a relative who is a non-citizen, or could be participating in organized crime.
The charge for crossing illegally might not appear in those cases, Diez explains.
"But I think mainly most people who have some kind of sort of reason to hide - they're bringing drugs. They will not be charged with that; they will be charged with bringing drugs to the U.S.”
If caught, the punishment can range up to one year in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.
Delgado received two years on probation.
He was recently back in court after breaking the terms of his release.