8320787291_4f9b874e8d_bAs many Americans found out last summer when the border crisis caused by unaccompanied alien minors streaming across the border made national news, a significant source of illegal immigration into this country today is illegal aliens smuggling their children across the border. Given the scale of the problem, combined with Obama Administration policies that encourage rather than deter such smuggling, Congress must not be complicit.

Unfortunately, a provision in S 178, the “Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act of 2015,” the anti-human trafficking bill that the Senate is currently considering, fails to meet this standard. Section 2 of the Act provides for a new penalty of $5,000 for individuals who have been convicted of child pornography, human trafficking, child prostitution, sexual exploitation, or human smuggling offenses under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). However, the bill also provides an exception to this penalty. Those who have induced, assisted, abetted, or aided the smuggling of an alien are exempt from this penalty if that alien was their spouse, parent, son, or daughter.

This exception is unnecessary. There is no reason to create less of a legal deterrent for smuggling aliens as long as those aliens are members of the family. Congress should be doing what it can to discourage illegal aliens from hiring human traffickers and cartels to smuggle their children across the border illegally. The American people have already seen what happens when this behavior is encouraged by its own government. For instance, in late 2013, a warning of the brewing border crisis was delivered by U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen, after he heard four cases in as many weeks where the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) directly assisted criminal conspiracies to smuggle illegal alien minors to their parents. He noted: “DHS is encouraging parents to seriously jeopardize the safety of their children…. By fostering an atmosphere whereby illegal aliens are encouraged to pay human smugglers for further services, the Government is not only allowing them to fund the illegal and evil activities of these cartels, but it is also inspiring them to do so.”

The Senate ought to remove this exception from the bill.