TOPEKA (KSNT)- A law going into effect this summer makes human smuggling a level-five felony in Kansas. It could land someone in prison for years. According to legal experts, the law is also raising questions over how it will be enforced.
“Right now…we have been receiving a lot of calls…,” said David Treviño, an Immigration Attorney in Lawrence. “Will this just be a random traffic stop? Will this be part of a traffic stop where you got numerous people in the vehicle? And, we’re looking at the appearance of individuals… if they look like they may be immigrants, will it open up an entire area of inquiry?”
The law, which goes into effect July 1, defines the crime of human smuggling as intentionally transporting, harboring, or concealing someone when a person “knows or should have known” that they are entering the U.S. illegally. This also includes when they benefit financially or receive anything of value. It can also be considered a crime when the person being smuggled is likely to be exploited for financial gain.
In an interview with Kansas Capitol Bureau on Friday, Treviño said it could be concerning for someone simply running errands with families of mixed status or providing services to undocumented immigrants.
“Is it simply that they’re taking someone to a grocery store?” he explained. “What about paramedics? People rendering aid? Are they going to be held liable under this law?”
Treviño said someone could receive up to about 11 years in prison for human smuggling in Kansas, under the law.
Still, he said there are many unknowns, as the law is just weeks away from going into effect. This includes how law enforcement will be trained to handle these encounters.
Treviño said one of the main concerns is that the law could create an environment, where people are subjected to a violation of their right to unlawful search and seizure. Ultimately, he said it will be up to prosecutors to bring charges.
“The concern is how broad of a net is going to be cast…,” he said.