Newsradio 850 KOA host Mike Rosen falsely stated on his May 2 show that entering the United States illegally is a felony, while harboring an illegal immigrant is not. Contrary to his assertions, a first-time offense of illegal entry is a misdemeanor and harboring an illegal immigrant is a felony, according to federal immigration law.
Discussing recent calls for immigration reform with a caller on the May 2 broadcast of his Newsradio 850 KOA show, host Mike Rosen misstated two provisions of federal immigration law. He falsely asserted that it is a "felony to enter this country illegally" and also claimed, "I don't believe it's a felony to harbor somebody who's in this country illegally." In fact, according to the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) -- the primary federal law governing naturalization and immigration to the United States -- harboring an illegal alien is a felony. Furthermore, under the INA, illegal entry into the United States upon a first offense is misdemeanor, not a felony, as Rosen stated.
Responding to a caller's statement that "housing illegals in this country is also illegal," Rosen said that was "[n]ot [his] understanding at all." He later said, "I don't believe it's a felony to harbor somebody who's in this country illegally." However, Section 1324 of the INA clearly levies felony criminal penalties for harboring illegal aliens. Under Sections 1324(a)(1)(A) and 1324(a)(1)(B)(ii):
"Any person who ... knowing or in reckless disregard of the fact that an alien has come to, entered, or remains in the United States in violation of law, conceals, harbors, or shields from detection, or attempts to conceal, harbor, or shield from detection, such alien in any place, including any building or any means of transportation ... shall be ... fined [or] imprisoned not more than 5 years, or both."
Rosen also told the same caller, "It is illegal -- it's even a felony to enter this country illegally -- to cross our border in contravention of our laws," later adding, "[I]f you can apprehend somebody crossing the border illegally, you could prosecute that person for a, a felonious act, as it's been explained to me." Contrary to Rosen's comments, illegal entry upon a first offense is in fact a misdemeanor under federal law, punishable by not more than six months imprisonment, under Section 1325(a) of the INA:
Any alien who ... enters or attempts to enter the United States at any time or place other than as designated by immigration officers ... shall, for the first commission of any such offense, be fined under [the INA] or imprisoned not more than 6 months, or both.
The provision does stipulate that "for a subsequent commission of any such offense," an offender may be subject to fines and "imprison[ment of] not more than 2 years, or both."
A felony is defined as "an offense for which a sentence to a term of imprisonment in excess of one year is authorized."
From the May 2 broadcast of Newsradio 850 KOA's The Mike Rosen Show:
CALLER: Supposedly, housing illegals in this country is also illegal. And when --
ROSEN: According to -- according to whom?
CALLER: Well, from my understanding, that's, that is federal law. You --
ROSEN: Not my understanding at all, no.
CALLER: OK. Well, it is mine.
ROSEN: They're splitting hairs on this, and this has come up before. It is illegal -- it's even a felony to enter this country illegally -- to cross our border in contravention of our laws; but ironically, it's not a felony to be here. There's a distinction between those two situations. So if you can apprehend somebody crossing the border illegally, you could prosecute that person for a, a felonious act, as it's been explained to me, but once you've gotten in this country illegally, it's not a felony to be here. And I don't believe it's a felony to harbor somebody who's in this country illegally. And if you -- if you're familiar with a federal statute to that effect, please let me know what it is.