Is there a way of eliminating human smuggling? We set up a model to simultaneously determine the provision of human smuggling services and the demand from would‐be migrants. A visa‐selling policy may be successful in eliminating smugglers by eroding their profits, but it also increases immigration. In contrast, repression decreases migration but fuels cartelized smugglers. To overcome this trade‐off we show that legalization through selling visas in combination with repression can be used to weaken human smuggling while controlling migration flows. Our results highlight the complementarities between repression and selling visas, and call into question current policies.