Unpunished Coyotes and Harboring Terrorists


4-26-05, 8:58 am

From Prensa Latina

Washington (Prensa Latina) Let´s suppose some coyotes illegally bring terrorist Osama Bin Laden to the US on a boat from Isla Mujeres. Would they be violating any US law? Anyone with an ounce of common sense would say they are commiting many crimes, and would expect that the Department of Homeland Security would rush to arrest and investigate the terrorist and his accomplices.

As far as we know, Osama Bin Laden has neither been on Isla Mujeres nor has he sailed the Caribbean on a boat. However, several terrorists recently did it.

Mexico´s Por Esto newspaper reported that the shrimper 'Santrina' picked Luis Posada Carriles up from Isla Mujeres on March 14 to secretly take him to Miami.

According to the paper, the boat was skippered by Jose Hilario Pujol, along with alleged sailors Ruben Lopez Castro, Jose Lopez Castro, Gilberto Abascal, Santiago Alvarez and Oswaldo Pital. Nevertheless, the US Department of Security has not investigated, interrogated or indicted them.

I cannot figure out why this country gives impunity to Posada Carriles and his cronies. The law and sentences are clear.

1- The federal penal code regulates it is illegal to bring a person to the US without a valid passport or US visa.

2- Entering the US without identity papers is a felony, attracting 10 years imprisonment.

3- Transporting a person without identity papers within the US is a felony, punishable by five years of imprisonment.
4- Anyone hiding a person without identity papers in the US is a felony also punishable by five years of imprisonment.

5- Anyone who aids a person without identity papers to secretly live in the US commits a felony. It also includes helping someone obtain a false identity card or passport (five year sentence).

6- If the person involved in the traffic of human beings is a criminal or terrorist, the punishment is harsher and includes an additional ten-year term. Whether the terrorist has a criminal record is not relevant, as long as his accomplice is aware of it.

7- Any boat used to traffic people into the country will be confiscated.

Simply by helping Posada Carriles to illegally enter the country, transport him within the country, hide his presence and assist him to establish a life in Miami, and of these accomplices could be given a 35-year prison term, besides being fined hundreds of thousands of dollars.

In addition, their boat can be confiscated and become a property of the Homeland Security Department.

The law leaves no room for doubt. Storm clouds are surrounding the White House, where officials are pretending not to see the terrorists and are helping them to live freely in Miami.

It is the US people who should make President Bush recall his own words: 'whoever harbours a terrorist is a terrorist himself.'

--Jose Pertierra is a Cuban-American lawyer. He has his law practice in Washington, D.C.