Texas City Councilman Accused of Alien Smuggling

Alexander J. Segal's picture

In our myriad immigration debates, it is common to see politicians accuse each other of advancing policies that will make our immigration system worse. If you read my 2016 Presidential Candidate Profiles [see blog], you will find that I think there is often [see blog] something [see blog] to the accusations [see blog]. However, I recently came across a story of a politician accused of flaunting our immigration laws so egregiously that I think Republicans, Democrats, and the unaffiliated will be able to unite in calling this a bona fide example of a politician damaging our immigration system.

KENS 5 Eyewitness News in San Antonio reports that Marco Antonio Rodriguez, a City Councilman from Crystal City, Texas, was arrested for allegedly smuggling three undocumented aliens into the United States.1

Rodriguez was reportedly pulled over by a Border Patrol agent. Rodriguez attempted to run away after a brief conversation, but the Border Patrol agent caught up to him and discovered three undocumented aliens who he was smuggling. Breitbart reports that according to the criminal complaint, Rodriguez admitted that he had been hired by the three aliens who he was smuggling and was paid up to $1,900 to transport them to San Antonio.2 Reportedly, Rodriguez also admitted that he had transported aliens on two other occasions for $500 and $1,400.

As if to add insult to injury, the Associated Press reports that the truck Rodriguez was using was reported stolen by a Denver-based company.3

Rodriguez is being held in a federal detention center and is reportedly facing federal human smuggling charges.

Unfortunately, because I have not seen the criminal complaint, I cannot comment more specifically on the Crystal City Councilman's particular situation. However, we can use this as an opportunity to look at some of the Immigration and Nationality Act's (INA) provisions that criminalize “bringing in and harboring certain aliens.”

The INA discusses criminal penalties for bringing in and harboring certain aliens in 274(a)(1)(A) and (B) [codified as 8 U.S.C. 1324]. Section 274(a)(1)(A) criminalizes:

1. Smuggling aliens into the United States;
2. Transporting unlawful aliens within the United States;
3. Harboring unlawful aliens within the United States;
4. Encouraging or inducing unlawful entry;
5. A conspiracy to commit any of the acts above.

(2-5 only criminalize the activities if they are done knowingly, or in reckless disregard of the alien's lack of status)

Section 274(a)(1)(B) lists the penalties for the violations described in 274(a)(1)(A). All activities covered by 274(a)(1)(A) are punishable by fines and imprisonment. The maximum possible sentences depend on certain facts regarding the specific violation.

Again, I must reiterate that we do not know all of the facts of the Rodriguez's situation. However, both smuggling aliens into the United States and transporting unlawful aliens within the United States for private financial gain is punishable by a fine under title 18 of the U.S. Code and/or imprisonment of up to 10 years.

In any case, I think we can all agree that if the allegations as reported are proven true, the City Councilman from Crystal City is an elected official who is certainly not making a positive contribution to U.S. immigration enforcement and reform.


  1. “South Texas city councilman accused of smuggling immigrants,” KENS 5, January 6, 2015, http://www.kens5.com/story/news/2016/01/05/south-texas-city-councilman-accused-smuggling-immigrants/78337444/
  2. Houston, Warner Todd, “South Texas City Official Arrested for Smuggling Illegals Across the Border,” Breitbart, January 6, 2015, http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2016/01/06/south-texas-city-official-arrested-smuggling-illegals-across-border/
  3. Associated Press, “State briefs: South Texas city councilman charged in human smuggling case,” The Courier of Montgomery County, http://www.yourhoustonnews.com/courier/news/state-briefs-south-texas-city-councilman-charged-in-human-smuggling/article_8465e1a7-ae77-568a-80e7-aa6075da1831.html
Texas City Councilman Accused of Alien Smuggling