Today, Congressman Patrick Murphy (D-8th District) introduced the Secure Borders Act of 2010, legislation that would mandate stiffer penalties for federal agents who are found guilty of smuggling illegal aliens into the U.S. While the majority of our federal agents put their lives on the line every day to protect our country, there are a handful who knowingly undermine these efforts by helping to smuggle illegal aliens across the border. Murphy's bill would sentence these lawbreakers to harsher prison terms. The legislation amends section 274(a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act to increase the penalty to 20 years in federal prison for federal law enforcement officials and members of the Coast Guard who smuggle aliens.
"Stopping illegal immigration and enhancing our border security is a national security imperative. Every day, brave border agents and customs officials are on the front lines battling our illegal immigration crisis, but a select few are working against our national interest and smuggling illegal aliens, and even potential terrorists, into our country," said Rep. Murphy. "My legislation would crack down on these offenders, eliminate this weak link in our system, and provide one more tool in stopping the illegal immigration crisis in our country."
The Secure Borders Act of 2010 addresses a problem that has drawn recent scrutiny -- U.S. border agents aiding smugglers in transporting illegal immigrants and drugs across our borders in exchange for bribes. These agents often know the penalties associated with their crimes, but do not consider them to be a deterrent:
* Customs Inspector Luis Alarid, who helped trucks full of illegal immigrants and drugs pass across the border, told investigators he had looked into how much prison time he could be sentenced for his actions and felt he could do it "standing on his head." He received 7 years in jail.
* Michael Gilliland, a 16-year veteran of U.S. Border Patrol, received just 5 years in federal prison for letting hundreds of illegal immigrants pass through his border check point. Edward Archuleta, a coworker who eventually helped convict him, told reporters Gilliland "knew the laws backwards and forwards."
* Richard Elizalda, a customs inspector at the San Ysidro Port of Entry- the world's busiest border crossing point- was sentenced to 57 months in prison for letting carloads of illegal aliens through his lane at least 24 times over the course of 2 years.
* Eric Balderas, a Border Patrol agent in El Cajon Station, California, was sentenced to just 2 years in prison after pleading guilty to bringing in more than 100 illegal immigrants through his patrol area.
"The stories of these officials blatantly breaking the law are very disturbing, and what's even more offensive is the short jail time they receive once convicted," Murphy added. "This small group of brazen criminals swore to protect our borders and instead broke our laws, and they should be given far harsher federal prison sentences for betraying their oath and weakening our national security."