Earlier this week the US Supreme Court agreed to hear an appeal case concerning an ‘illegal’ immigrant who allegedly used a social security number belonging to another person. This case concerning a charge of aggravated identity theft will be heard sometime in 2009. It is significant because federal prosecutors have used this identity theft charge against many of the 300 immigrants caught up in the raids at the meat packing plant in Postville.

This charge which is based from a new law adopted in 2004 originally was intended to combat identity theft but has now found new purpose in the federal government’s attempts to ‘combat illegal immigration’. The punishment for this crime is much greater than a simple violation of immigration code which has made it a popular ‘tool’ for prosecutors who appear anxious to throw the kitchen sink at these people in the hope that it sticks.

What’s troublesome to me is that the federal government has no qualms about accepting social security, medicare, and federal employment tax withholdings from these individuals paychecks. Presumably this person was paying the feds using this invalid number and name, the Internal Revenue Service ans Social Security Administration knew that the names and numbers didn’t match but apparently they don’t care as long as your PAYING THEM MONEY. My question is, wouldn’t the feds acceptance of this money from these people’s paychecks make them an accessories to a crime? I mean if this really is aggravated identity theft then couldn’t it be construed as the equivalent to receiving knowingly stolen property on the part of the IRS and SSA?

Anyways, to the best of my knowledge a number in and of itself doesn’t identify a person, someone would need the name and the number used in conjunction. And to the best of my knowledge this individual just used a random number without having the corresponding name. Not sure how much theft could be done with just a number. Also, what about those individuals that used numbers that were invalid such as those that started with the number nine? For example, 999-99-9999, if someone used that number could they be charged with identity theft since there’s no individual with that number. Are prosecutors checking each of these social security numbers to see if there is a real person currently using that number?

In summation, the case appears to have merit and hopefully the Supreme Court will throw out this conviction. If the government wants strong convictions with long sentences then they should instead make an immigration violation something greater than a civil violation.

31 thoughts on “Supreme Court to Hear Case Concerning ‘Illegals’ & ID Theft

  1. Rick Bentley

    “My question is, wouldn’t the feds acceptance of this money from these people’s paychecks make them an accessories to a crime?”

    Good arguement. It would be grteat if the Supreme Court held our government accountable for the sham they perpetrate.

  2. Lucky Duck

    Four years ago, Congress added a two-year mandatory prison term for anyone who “knowingly transfers, possesses or uses . . . identification of another person.” This law clearly applies to the classic cases of identity theft, such as an individual who uses another person’s private information to empty a bank account or to charge items to a credit card. The reason for the Supreme Court review is to determine if the law can be applied if the suspect did not know the Social Security Number actually belonged to someone else.

    I don’t know about you, but I do not want anyone using my SSN for ANY purpose and I would consider this to be a case of identity theft. Have you ever received a tax bill for money someone else earned by using your SSN? That is what can happen in the case you cite above.

    The two agencies (IRS and SS Administration) don’t analyze their data to root out likely immigration fraud, and they won’t share their millions of records so that law enforcement agencies can do that, either. Privacy laws, they say, prohibit them from sharing their files with anyone, except in rare criminal investigations. I would be fully supportive of those two agencies working with law enforcement and providing the information to go after ANYONE using a false or stolen SSN. Yes, the IRS and the SSA accept the taxes paid without any questions asked. But lets turn the taxes down and let the IRS and SSA share information on stolen/fake SSN’s and watch the uproar when more people are arrested and charged. So right now its a standoff.

    By the way, just having the SSN and no name is still dangerous. All it takes is someone wtih access to a data base (insurance, credit card, billing – like a hospital) and they can obtain the name and date of birth attached to the SSN. Then you’re an ID theft victim.

    I think that someone using a social security number belonging to someone else under any circumstances or even a made up number is criminal offense that is beyond the bounds of the civil immigration offense and I hope the Supreme Court decides in that manner.

    Until you’ve seen the destruction ID theft can cause in an innocent person’s life, giving a pass to someone who steals or uses that number may seem harmless, but its not.

  3. TDB

    Either way it’s a crime! Isn’t providing fraudulent documentation in order to obtain employment that you are not legally entitled to a crime? I was always taught that ignorance is not an excuse!

  4. ShellyB

    There was another article in the Post you should grab if you know how to. It was about Bush deciding he’s going to damage our economy even more before he takes office by conducting widespread raids on small businesses and the farming industry, if an appeals court will allow it.

  5. ShellyB

    I mean LEAVES OFFICE, not takes office. We are NOT going to have four more years of Bush.

  6. Rick Bentley

    The whole pro-Shamnesty arguement of Obama, McCain, and Bush was based on the idea that we had more jobs than we could fill. Now that credit is tightening and unemployment rising – it’s time to put America and Americans first. It is unconscionable to employ illegal aliens or for our government to ignore it while crooked empoloyers do.

  7. Rick Bentley

    I have to question the patriotism of anyone who wants to let illegal aliens work our jobs while Americans are unemployed.

    And please don’t pretend to me that somehow having 20 million uneducated poor cross the border is energizing our economy.

    Their being allowed in and made to feel comfortable was part and parcel of the irresponsible greedy financially irresponsible behavior that was allowed to thrive during this decade.

  8. Marie

    Hey, there are plenty of illegal immigrants that use Tax ID numbers issued by the Feds. They use those for employment and have federal, state tax and Medicare and Fica tax deducted from their pay checks. They can also get a federally issued PIN to pay taxes.

    Hey Rick. I am a patriot! However, I have to take issue with your first sentence. There are plenty of jobs but those of us softees born in the US do not want to do hard work. We don’t want to clean toilets or work two jobs. We do not want to flip hamburgers. That is just the long and short of it. Undocumented immigrants appear to be working because they will do anything to earn money. Case in point. I have a friend who was laid off from his job. He refuses to take a job paying less than the $25.00 an hour he was earning. What the hell kind of logic is that? Isn’t some money better than no money? So, he will stay unemployed and probably bitch and moan because some undocumented immigrant has a job.

  9. Elena

    I agree with Lucky Duck, in that using anyone elses ssn is dangerous. However, having said that, to make up a false number, NOT attributed to a real person, and use it to get paid is not the same offense to me. In fact, there are billions in SS that will go unclaimed due to the use of “pretend” SSN’s.

    Rick,
    Up until recently, our unemployment rate was EXTREMEMLY low. I imagine, the people who came here to work, will also soon be leaving, as the labor market has changed drastically.

  10. Rick Bentley

    Marie, the presence of the illegal work force directly affects the wages employers pay.

    Elena, I hope that you’re right and I hope that the next President will work towards that end.

  11. Elena

    Rick,
    I hope the next president works towards improving our unempolyment rate also! With immigration reform in place and innovative ideas towards building a new “green” economy, the future has awesome possiblilites.

  12. Rick Bentley

    I agree that we may have a brighter future.

    I think the illegal immigration issue will be important, I think it’s part and parcel of the irresponsible dream-world government we’ve had, I think it’s imperative that our government protects American workers from the Amnesty & massive influx of poverty that many of the elitists who govern us are after.

  13. ShellyB

    I think we will need all the workers we can find to pull us out of this economic funk. Have the long time Americans take the higher paying jobs, and allow the new immigrants to take the lower paying jobs. As people move up, we bring in more immigrants and our economy keeps growing. It’s the only way to pay off the huge debt we have now thanks to Reagan/Bush/Bush.

  14. ShellyB

    Trivia question:

    When was the last time the Republican party won the White House without a Bush or a Nixon on the ticket?

    (got this from Hardball)

    You will not believe the last year this happened, or the last President, or how he got into office if you know your history.

  15. michael

    The real issue in my mind is the “personal damage” caused by the “acts” of people who choose random SSNs, and “happen” to choose a number that is real. The damage in ID theft and credit loss is still done, and even though the victims are only randomly attacked, the fact that the practice is prevalent, increases the number of victims, and they are still attacked by the “act” of choosing a false number (belonging to someone or not).

    Also there is the issue of “legal” ways of obtaining tax identity and “illegal” ways of obtaining tax identity. All “illegal” ways are punishable by law, and should be enforced.

    This has nothing to do with sympathy for people who need jobs and in order to have a job must pay tax and report income. It has everything to do with the comission of crime and the steps necessary to stop that crime from creating more victims.

    You cannot give one “individual” a right to break law, when breaking that law causes pain and suffering on “others”. That is the fundamental problem with supporting “illegal” immigration and supporting “illegal” people. Their “illegality” causes pain and suffering on “others”. That is why we have law, to prevent pain, suffering and un-compensated damages perpetrated on innocent people by “non-innocent” people.

    An “illegal” person is not innocent. The innocent person is the victim harmed by that “illegal” person. Every one who believes “illegals” need support is misguided and uncaring of the effects on innocent victims of illegal behavior.

  16. michael

    Another problem with “illegal” immoigration is that it increases the percentage of un-skilled workers compared to skilled workers and affects the economy and educational costs accordingly. You cannot compete in a global innovative economy with the least talented workers competing for jobs on a global market led by the most talented workers.

    It’s like picking the least talented kids to play on your football team or represent you in the olympics. You may be doing it for sympathetic reasons, but you will not win a game or a medal, and you will likely lose and lose big time.

    Financial and global competition will be won by the best and brightest “team” a nation can put together. When you are picking or allowing the least intelligent or least productive members of society to “lead” your societies growth by supporting an influx of only the most poor into your nation, encouraging the least poor to have the most babies, raised in the greatest conditions of poverty because those baby’s parents are poor, then you change your population “skill and ability” demographics and financial innovation by letting “everyone”, rather than the “best” into your country. In supporting this, you are eventually creating your own form of future social collapse and evolving (by poverty birth and by illegal import) to a less successfull and knowledgeable society.

  17. michael

    Let me be very clear that “intelligence is racially, ethnically, gender and religiously blind”, but “knowledge and “skill” is an environment and cultural issue, and that does impact and have an affect on regions of poverty and regions of wealth.

    Those nations with more knowledge and skill will have wealthier and healthier economies than those nations that do not, regardless of wether or not they have “intelligent” people in those regions of poverty. There are significant numbers of “intelligent” people in all nations, but why then do some nations have so much poverty? (usually because of war, famine, disease, social conflict, geography, and lack of equipment, knowledge and skills). Importing any of these into a healthy nation will not make it more healthy and successful, but it will make it less healthy and less successful.

  18. The Native Americans gave the Pilgrims amnesty. The Pilgrims and Native Americans gave the Pennsylvania Dutch amnesty. The nation we became gave African Americans amnesty, and gradually equality. The Italians got amnesty. The Irish got amnesty. The Chinese were exploited, then excluded, and then got amnesty. The Japanese were imprisoned but then got amnesty. The Jews who escaped Europe were granted amnesty. And then in the 60’s we decided, in order to honor the memory of a slain president and the ideals on which this nation was founded, to abolish racial quotas on new immigrabts designed to preserve the statistical ethnic make-up of the United States.

    Through all this, we have grown stronger economically, and become a more perfect union. What part of progress don’t you understand?

  19. Moon-howler

    Herbert Hoover, 1929-answer to trivia quiz
    UFB!!!

  20. FormerCoMEmployee

    WhyHereWhyNow, what the heck are you talking about?! Have you been smoking crack!! We did not give the Irish, Italians, Chinese amnesty. They came here legally. Much different than the people coming from South America. The Cubans are given asylum (sp) because of their communist piece of crap government. I do not think the majority of people coming over our southern border come from communist governments. They may be piece of craps government, but let them at the very least try to fix their own country first. Aside from the crooked police, there are many loyal police in Mexico attempting to make their country better and dieing for that cause. maybe some of the people coming here illegally should try to make their country better. Please don’t construe my comment as being anti immigration or as racist. I do not believe every person from a hispanic culture should be stopped for driving while hispanic or any other unfair law that targets one group. But enough is enough!

  21. Identity theft/fraud is the single worst crime committed by the illegal aliens against the average American and, unlike what you might think, it is perpetrated by the 100’s of thousands (50,000 KNOWN cases against children in Utah alone, discovered in about 2005-06). If you want to see some of the REPRESENTATIVE incidents among the many thousands that I came across in my research, perhaps you should check this out:

    http://scheney.wordpress.com/2008/07/09/identity-theft/#more-25

  22. ShellyB

    2 points for MH and WHWN!

    However, WHWN, you did get a few things wrong, I have to tell you.

    First of all, the two oil companies who rigged the “Smoke Filled Room” at the 1920 Republican convention did not buy the Presidency. They only bought the GOP nomination. Harding still had to defeat James M. Cox, the Democratic nominee.

    Also, you made a slight chronological error. When Coolidge won in 1924, the jury was still out on the Teapot Dome Scandal, at least in the public’s mind. No one had been convicted or put in prison. Many voters believed what the Republicans were telling them, that the whole scandal was being fabricated by a Democratic Party eager to retake the White House.

    It is during Coolidge’s 2nd administration (his only full term) that Harry Sinclair of Sinclair Oil and Edward Doheny of Standard Oil were convicted for bribing the U.S. government into giving them “no bid contracts” (!!!!). Albert Fall was not convicted until 1929. Doheny was actually acquitted, but not before a key witness was murdered. Sinclair’s trial did begin before Hoover’s election, but the appeals were not decided until 1929 by the Supreme Court, who upheld his conviction sending him to prison for six months.

    Hoover, who had served as Commerce Secretary under Harding and Coolidge, is often said to be the worst President in American history. But he was one of the more patriotic members of the Harding/Coolidge administration. By patriotic I mean he didn’t abuse power to enrich himself.

    Herbert Hoover’s first achievement as President was helping Standard Oil of California obtain oil rights in the Shiekdom of Bahrain in the Middle East. Edward Doheney, the same company that was mixed up in the Teapot Dome Scandal, was most appreciative.

    Other than presiding over the collapse of the American economy, Hoover is best known for calling in the U.S. military to disperse protesters, including women and children, who had camped out near the White House to demand government assistance as the Great Depression raged on in 1932. The U.S. military burned the protesters tents and the familes fled in terror. Just who were these families? U.S. military veterans from WWI, their wives, and their children!

  23. Leila

    FormerCoMEmployee, about 45% of illegal immigrants in the United States entered the country legally and then fell out of status. That is almost half NOT doing what is typically imagined of an illegal immigrant, ie. jumping the border.

    About 22% are not from Latin America, although for some reason that is usually forgotten. In this area Mexicans are not the major Latino group and probably not even 2nd or 3rd on the list. The country where most Latinos in this area come from, El Salvador, was made considerably worse off by the actions of the US government if you recall the years of civil war. But in any case, the remittances sent by all kinds of immigrants, legal and illegal (as well as some citizens, for example Cuban exiles) are part of what makes survival possible for people in home countries. As TWINAD has pointed out about her husband’s family, there are youth going to school to better themselves in her husband’s home country because of the support of family members up here. The issue is complex, but it seems a bit bizarre to demand that the poor of countries to our South stay home and starve to fix their societies when we can’t manage to fix inequalities here with vastly more resources at our disposal and a more equitable political system. It is also hypocritical considering that the US has historically supported the elites of the countries in question against the demands and activism of the poor.

    For me, the problems with illegal immigration in this country need to be viewed in a wider context. It makes sense for people to risk everything to come here for jobs. If you wish to stop it, if you think Americans are the victims, then the sanctions need to be against employers so those jobs won’t exist.

  24. Leila

    FormerCoMEmployee, about 45% of illegal immigrants in the United States entered the country legally and then fell out of status. That is almost half NOT doing what is typically imagined of an illegal immigrant, ie. jumping the border.

    About 22% are not from Latin America, although for some reason that is usually forgotten. In this area Mexicans are not the major Latino group and probably not even 2nd or 3rd on the list. The country where most Latinos in this area come from, El Salvador, was made considerably worse off by the actions of the US government if you recall the years of civil war. But in any case, the remittances sent by all kinds of immigrants, legal and illegal (as well as some citizens, for example Cuban exiles) are part of what makes survival possible for people in home countries. As TWINAD has pointed out about her husband’s family, there are youth going to school to better themselves in her husband’s home country because of the support of family members up here. The issue is complex, but it seems a bit bizarre to demand that the poor of countries to our South stay home and starve to fix their societies when we can’t manage to fix inequalities here with vastly more resources at our disposal and a more equitable political system. It is also hypocritical considering that the US has historically supported the elites of the countries in question against the demands and activism of the poor.

    For me, the problems with illegal immigration in this country need to be viewed in a wider context. It makes sense for people to risk everything to come here for jobs. If you wish to stop it, if you think Americans are the victims, then the sanctions need to be against employers so those jobs won’t exist.

  25. Leila

    Ack. Apologies for the double post. I don’t know how that happened.

  26. Rick Bentley

    “If you wish to stop it, if you think Americans are the victims, then the sanctions need to be against employers so those jobs won’t exist.”

    To stop it cold we should attack it from both sides.

    The current-day situation is that our CORRUPT Congress & President fashioned a system where we can hardly ever hold employers accountable, the government has enabled them with “plausible deniability”. While fighting the uphill battle to hold them accountable on that front, it’s important to keep the fight on against the illegal aliens – who have done wrong and who know it. We either extend a red carpet to them or we try to get rid of them. They and hundreds of millions more are watching and listening and making life decisions on whether they think it is in their interest to come here, or not.

    And, unless this case turns out screwy, we CAN hold people accountable for actually breaking the law.

  27. Moon-howler

    Look at the economy. Business has pretty much done what it wants to do, now hasn’t it? Let’s just start with the mortgage companies. Did they break the law or skirt around it? Hedge fund managers also got to play loosy goosy with the existing rules that governed stocks. ETFs and mutual funds.

    I don’t think anyone can be held accountable for anything.

  28. “I don’t think anyone can be held accountable for anything.”

    AMEN, Moon-howler!

  29. michael

    Accountability is a lost virtue and lost but vital part of human character. Without it humans slip into criminal behavior and rampant theft on innocent victims.

  30. michael

    You can gain accountability in people without morals only by fear of consequences (punishment by law) and punishment if you are not honest and do not fear taking actions lacking integrity as having any consequence or impact on your general welfare.
    Innocent people then suffer from non-accountable acts by non-innocent people.

  31. […] is an update to a previous thread, Supreme Court to Hear Case Concerning Illegals & ID Theft. The US Supreme Court has unanimously rejected tactics of the federal government in pursuing […]

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