Punishing enablers of chain illegal immigration

Is this the next focus for immigration enforcement? The Washington Times highlights a rather unusual case out of Tampa, Florida where Miguel Pacheco-Lopez was discovered to be an illegal immigrant from Guatemala working for a shady employer at a Japanese restaurant. Nothing too out of the ordinary so far, right? There are hundreds of those situations being discovered every day. But Pacheco-Lopez is on his way to jail, not for crossing the border illegally, working under the table or any other random crimes. He’s going to be doing seven months in jail for the crime of enticing another illegal alien to enter the country and paying a coyote to move him.

An illegal immigrant from Guatemala was sentenced to seven months in jail late last month for paying human smugglers to bring his 16-year-old brother-in-law into the U.S., in what officials say is one of the first cases to punish a relative for enticing a family member to make the dangerous trek north.

Miguel Pacheco-Lopez admitted he paid $6,100 to “coyotes,” as the smugglers are called, to bring his wife’s brother into the U.S. last year. He expected the teen — identified in court documents by the initials S.M. — to pay the majority of the money back at 8 percent interest.

The prosecution was part of a groundbreaking strategy to try to slow the stream of unaccompanied alien children by going after the people they are trying to join in the U.S.

This was no accident. It turns out that when John Kelly was still at DHS he’d issued new orders to begin looking at prosecutions of those who are facilitators of what we may as well call chain illegal migration. Having gotten into the country successfully, Pacheco-Lopez was using the money he earned illegally to bring in additional illegal aliens. Sympathetic observers typically don’t like to see these sorts of prosecutions because he was just “trying to help his family member.”

But as the Times article points out, what sort of help is that? Traveling with the smugglers is incredibly dangerous, not to mention acting as a funding stream for the cartels. Plus, particularly when it comes to young girls, odds are that they will be raped along the coyote trail. Teenage girls are reportedly told to stock up on birth control and take it before a trip, even if they aren’t in a relationship, to prevent getting pregnant before they enter the country.

But the story of Miguel Pacheco-Lopez didn’t end with just the smuggling of his relative. Authorities discovered that his home address was shared with a large number of other men living in a tiny space. All of them were illegal aliens being used as wage slaves by the restaurant owners who paid them below the minimum and let them live in the house in exchange for keeping quiet.

So why is it important to prosecute cases such as this one? Rather than just catching one person sneaking over the border, this one illegal alien exposed a human trafficking ring and a bogus employment scam. Sending people like Pacheco-Lopez to jail not only sends a clear message across the border, but takes out several birds with one stone in terms of illegal smuggling and employment operations.