It is a sad reality that many of our community’s teachers are struggling to make ends meet. Underpaid and overworked, some of these educators often find themselves seeking supplemental income just to make it through the month. However, one teacher in Texas took her illegal side hustle too far.
A middle school teacher from Houston, Texas, was recently charged with four counts of human smuggling after being caught near the U.S.-Mexico border. Authorities made the discovery when they stopped the teacher, Brandan Gracia, for a traffic violation in the border town of Eagle Pass, Texas. Shockingly, authorities found four illegal migrants in his car, which he was clearly attempting to smuggle across the border.
The Houston Federation of Teachers Union confirmed to Fox 26 Houston that Gracia is a current teacher. The discovery of such egregious activities by someone in such an esteemed position is a sad reflection on our society.
The teacher was caught with the illegal migrants hiding in the back seat, attempting to conceal themselves from the authorities. According to Kinney County Sheriff Brad Coe, Gracia was contacted through social media and lured by the promise of quick money to participate in these illegal activities.
Smugglers are often promised payments of up to $5,000 per person they transport, but often never receive the payments. This shameful act is an indicator of the staggering levels of desperation that some people are forced to resort to in order to make ends meet.
Sheriff Coe explained, “He’s looking at state jail time. He could get up to six to eight years for all this. Best I can tell this is his first time. We are catching some that have no criminal history, never been in trouble before in their life, and they’ve hit a point in life where they think they need money bad enough that they’re going to try this. So we need to turn the economy around. We need to educate people, and we need to find the source.”
As part of his plan to tackle border issues, such as smuggling, Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott launched a state initiative called “Operation Lone Star” in March 2021.
As a result of Operation Lone Star, more than 336,000 migrants have been apprehended, more than 23,000 criminal arrests have been made, and more than 20,000 felony charges have been filed, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety.
At the federal level, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) recorded more than 2.3 migrant encounters in fiscal year 2022 and more than 1 million in the first five months of fiscal year 2023.
Citizens who choose to do this need to be held just as accountable to discourage such behavior from American citizens. The economy is obviously not helping people but at the same time this is not the American way of making money. Human smuggling must never be tolerated.
Let’s continue this conversation, in the comments below.