Texas Lawyer Charged with Transporting Illegal Immigrants Along Highway
71-year-old Attorney Armando Treviño was arrested earlier this month after an off-duty border patrol officer noticed two illegal immigrants get into his vehicle and start traveling along a South Texas highway. A short time later, agents from the Cotulla Sector stopped the vehicle that matched the agent’s description, a maroon SUV. Treviño was apparently transporting the immigrants after they had been dropped off by their original guide.
The immigrants paid smugglers $2,500 to help them get into the U.S., they reported. They had asked to be taken all the way to San Antonio but were abandoned right after crossing the Rio Grande. So, they were stuck along the highway without a way to complete their trip. Treviño noticed them and offered them a ride as they were looking for new transportation.
One of the two immigrants said Treviño told them he wouldn’t be able to take them all the way to their destination but could drive them further north. Desperate, they agreed to travel as far as possible, intending to find alternate means of making it the rest of the way.
According to a law that is found within the Immigration and Nationality Act (I.N.A.), at Section 274(a)(1)(A)(ii), certain stipulations need to be met in order to prosecute a U.S. citizen that is transporting undocumented immigrants. In order to convict someone under this section of the law, the prosecutors would need to show that:
- the defendant transported or attempted to transport a noncitizen within the U.S.;
- the noncitizen was in the U.S. in violation of U.S. law (as would be the case with any undocumented person);
- the defendant was aware that the noncitizen was in the U.S. unlawfully and acted in reckless disregard of this fact, and;
- the defendant acted willfully in furtherance of the noncitizen’s legal violation.
Treviño’s case seems to follow all four of the stipulations. Looking into the attorney’s background, officers also discovered he had previously led a student rally protesting discrimination against Mexican-Americans back in the ‘60s. He had long been an advocate for Mexican-American rights and would be a likely willing participant, helping them to their destination.
Prior reprimands and suspensions against Treviño are also listed on his record with the State Bar of Texas. The citations were a result of failure to pay bar dues, to keep his clients informed about their cases, and to appear in court with them. Because of the nature of the current circumstances leading to his arrest along the highway and these previous complaints, the attorney may have a harder time dropping the offense. Only time will tell.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) had been cracking down on illegal immigration under the Trump administration. President Trump has been actively committed to stopping and detaining immigrants entering illegally as well as deporting undocumented individuals already in the U.S. There has been substantial controversy in recent months regarding procedures for deporting minor child of immigrants.
Treviño’s hearing is scheduled for later this month. He is reportedly being represented by his son who is practicing criminal lawyer in the San Antonio area.