Caravan Aiders and Abettors Can Be Charged, Says Former DOJ Prosecutor

James Trusty said 'alien smuggling and racketeering' could be investigated among the migrant marchers in the growing crisis

Image Credit: ORLANDO SIERRA./AFP/Getty Images

People who helped organize, fund and coach migrants with the latest Central American caravan headed toward the U.S. could be prosecuted for “alien smuggling and racketeering charges” or “aiding and abetting false statements for immigration purposes,” former Department of Justice (DOJ) prosecutor James Trusty said Tuesday night on Fox News’ “The Ingraham Angle.”

“It depends on a lot of facts that I’m not totally certain on at this point. But the bottom line is, if they are organizing and financing and trying to encourage people to cross illegally and to cross outside a point of entry, it’s at least arguable that there’s alien smuggling and racketeering charges that could be investigated,” Trusty (pictured above right) told host Laura Ingraham.

Trusty, who served as the DOJ’s chief of the Organized Crime Section, said there are some legal solutions for deterring the caravan and preventing future masses of potential illegal immigrants from reaching the U.S. border. Ultimately, there needs to be a “political solution” to the immigration crisis, he warned.

“But the legal aspect of that is you could argue that they’re aiding and abetting false statements for immigration purposes,” Trusty said, noting that prosecutors would need to distinguish between “encouraging false entry, as opposed to entries at a point where they’re lawfully turning themselves in seeking asylum.”

A caravan now brimming with upward of 7,000 migrants began its trek last week from Honduras through Guatemala to Mexico, with many participants saying they hope ultimately to enter the U.S. and claim asylum.

“They’re absolutely aiding and abetting and helping people make an illegal entry.”

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An earlier caravan was funded in April by Pueblo Sin Fronteras (People Without Borders), which is a project of La Familia Latina Unida, a Chicago, Illinois-based 501(c)(4) illegal immigration advocacy group.

Vice President Mike Pence said Tuesday at the White House that he was told by Honduran officials that the present caravan is being funded by the socialist regime in Venezuela.

Former U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) acting Director Thomas Homan agreed with Trusty and insisted that those aiding and abetting caravan members who are seeking illegal entry into the U.S. can and should be prosecuted.

“They’re absolutely aiding and abetting and helping people make an illegal entry,” Homan said, noting that such behavior is a felony.

“So HSI [ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations] needs to work with its partners in Mexico, identify these people and prosecute them,” Homan advised.

The former acting ICE director also recommended that U.S. officials implement two solutions in dealing with the caravan crisis.

“First of all, raise the asylum bar. As [Trusty] says, they get interviewed by an asylum officer. Eighty-eight percent of them pass the asylum interview because they are coached on what to say. But when they get to court — if they get to court — more than 80 percent lose their case,” Homan said.

“The second thing we can do — look, if these families want due process, they’ve got the right to claim asylum. There’s only one way we can guarantee due process. Keep them in a family residential center until they see a judge,” Homan said.

Related: Key Question: Who Is Funding and Supplying the Migrant Caravan?

Noting that ICE practiced this in 2014, Homan said, “And guess what? Eighty percent of them lost their cases. We put them on an airplane and sent them south. The numbers went down because we showed the world we are a nation of laws. And you’ll get your due process, but when a decision’s made and you lose, you’re going to go home.”

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) also appeared on “The Ingraham Angle” to discuss the latest caravan crisis. But when Ingraham asked him what actions Congress plans to take after the November 6 midterms, Scalise offered few specifics.

“In the next two weeks, you’re really going to see this debate play out because ultimately that election in two weeks will help decide it. I am really glad that President Trump is putting such a sharp focus on this,” he replied. “President Trump has done a great job of making this an election issue because the country is ultimately going to decide: Do we want national security [or] open borders?”

“We need to change the law,” Scalise added. “We have to treat this as an invasion, but also you have to look at this as [that] we are a nation of laws. We’ve said just play by the rules. There are rules you can play by. But they’re trying to game the system. We’ve got to be real clear that these laws have to be changed.”

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