Obama Administration Promises to Ignore SSN Fraud, Protect Law-Breaking Businesses

By Jon Feere, September 27, 2012

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the agency tasked with overseeing President Obama's controversial Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program recently updated its "Frequently Asked Questions" webpage to assure applicants that the White House is not concerned with Social Security fraud or illegal hiring practices. Or, as the administration told the New York Times, the White House is "not interested in using this as a way to identify one-off cases where some individual may have violated some federal law in an employment relationship."

The amnesty-advocating National Immigration Law Center (NILC) gleefully sent out the following notice:

Are you (or your clients) waiting to apply for DACA because you've used a Social Security Number (SSN) that was not yours? Or is your employer afraid to provide you with employment records out of fear of immigration enforcement? … Helpful new guidance from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) may answer your questions!

The application form for an Employment Authorization Document, which comes as part of the DACA amnesty, asks illegal aliens to list any Social Security numbers they have used and to "include all numbers [they] have ever used". Many of the applicants (and the lawyers representing them) logically assumed that this required the illegal alien to list any SSNs they had previously used in acquiring a job or government benefit, numbers that may belong to legal residents. In other words, the application seems to require applicants to admit to ID fraud, ID theft, and potentially other crimes depending on how the SSN was used.

But the immigration lobby is powerful — particularly within the Obama White House — and USCIS has announced that only those SSNs officially issued by the Social Security Administration need to be listed:

Q9. How should I fill out question nine (9) on the Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization?

A9. When you are filing a Form I-765 as part of a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals request, question nine (9) is asking you to list those Social Security numbers that were officially issued to you by the Social Security Administration.

The number of illegal alien applicants with a validly issued SSN is likely to be very small, so it remains unclear why the application form would have originally requested "all" SSNs used by applicants if the goal was not to uncover instances of fraud. For the record, some legal, temporary immigrants can get validly issued SSNs; if they overstay their visas they become illegal aliens with validly issued numbers. See the Social Security Administration's webpage "Social Security Numbers for Noncitizens".

Until this latest update, the SSN information collected on the applications would have allowed DHS to investigate the Social Security numbers and names used by the applicants and then contact any legal residents associated with the information. Americans struggling to resolve their identity and credit would benefit greatly. But the Obama administration has decided that the interests of legal residents must take a back seat to the interests of criminal illegal aliens.

The other update to the "Frequently Asked Questions" section of the deferred action webpage is more of a benefit to law-breaking businesses than illegal alien applicants. To prove that the alien has lived in the United States as a quasi-continuous resident, applicants can submit proof of employment. Apparently unscrupulous businesses have become concerned that evidence of their illegal hiring practices is being submitted to the federal government, resulting in the Obama administration promising not to use the evidence in an enforcement action in most instances:

Q4. If I provide my employee with information regarding his or her employment to support a request for consideration of deferred action for childhood arrivals, will that information be used for immigration enforcement purposes against me and/or my company?

A4. You may, as you determine appropriate, provide individuals requesting deferred action for childhood arrivals with documentation which verifies their employment. This information will not be shared with ICE for civil immigration enforcement purposes pursuant to INA section 274A unless there is evidence of egregious violations of criminal statutes or widespread abuses.

There is a secondary reason that law-breaking employers likely have little to worry about. Instead of submitting evidence of employment, applicants can prove they lived in the United States by submitting items like utility bills, rent receipts, copies of money order receipts, dated bank transactions, and birth certificates of babies born to them while in the United States, just to name a few examples. Not only this, USCIS has announced that the "continuous residence since June 15, 2007" requirement does not require applicants to prove they were in the United States on every day, nor even every week or every month of the time period. USCIS explains that "there is no requirement that every day or month of that period be specifically accounted for through direct evidence." As the lawyers at the NILC explain, "USCIS has clarified that only one document per year is required." Illegal aliens simply have to have made one bank transaction a year, and the Obama administration is satisfied. And if the alien cannot even meet this standard, USCIS allows the alien to submit affidavits from friends and family who are willing to claim that the applicant was in the United States during the time period. On top of all this, under existing U.S. immigration law "continuous residence" does not actually require continuous residence. As I've explained in a recent op-ed, aliens can generally leave the country for months at a time with the absences not considered a break in residency.

Nevertheless, in their notice the National Immigration Law Center is instructing illegal alien applicants to not submit any employment records that indicate the alien has engaged in ID fraud: "NILC continues to recommend that DACA applicants avoid submitting employment records that reflect an SSN that does not belong to the applicant, unless the applicant has no other evidence to support DACA eligibility." In other words, the Obama administration and illegal alien advocates are working in concert to keep American victims of ID theft in the dark while shielding unscrupulous businesses from enforcement.

These updates to the deferred action plan should not come as a surprise. The Migration Policy Institute, an amnesty-advocating think tank, recently demanded that the Obama administration add a guarantee that law-breaking businesses listed in DACA applications be shielded from enforcement. Now they have their wish.

If a future president decides to extend this two-year amnesty, it would be helpful to Americans struggling with ID theft if the president were to amend the application language and require applicants to fess up to their ID theft and list all numbers they have ever used. Furthermore, evidence of any employment should be required so that ICE can investigate and penalize employers engaged in illegal businesses practices. Since this amnesty is completely administrative in nature, the application and renewal process can be changed at will. Hopefully future administrations will put the interests of legal residents before the interests of law-breakers.