ID Theft Ruling Opens the Door to Collaborative Enforcement ... If the Feds Seize the Initiative

By Dan Cadman on March 10, 2020

My colleague Art Arthur has written a comprehensive analysis of the recent Supreme Court (SCOTUS) decision upholding the state of Kansas's prosecution of illegal aliens for identity theft after they serially used stolen Social Security numbers belonging to others, to:

  • Unlawfully obtain jobs in the United States by fraudulently filling out employment verification forms I-9 that included those Social Security numbers;
  • Defraud the federal tax authorities by similar use of those numbers on W-4 forms; and, finally,
  • Defraud Kansas tax authorities, by use of those same numbers on the state tax form K-4.

Ironically, the argument on behalf of the aliens seeking to overcome prosecution and conviction was that the portion of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) requiring procedures designed to weed unauthorized aliens out of the workplace — and, when appropriate, charge them or their employers with civil and criminal offenses — preempted state enforcement activities because of federal supremacy in the area of immigration enforcement.

As they would have it, a statute whose purpose is to prevent illegal activity would instead become a safe harbor to shield that self-same illegal activity. Arthur observes, accurately, that the SCOTUS decision was a triumph of common sense by preventing that absurd result. But how typical of alien advocacy groups that they seize on this issue of preemption when it's convenient, and cast it aside (for instance when arguing in favor of sanctuary laws) when it isn't.

The nation is awash in a sea of identity theft, and a significant portion of it is perpetrated by illegal aliens who steal the information and personal identifiers of citizens and lawful residents in order to obtain jobs to which they aren't eligible. This activity is neither benign nor victimless. Imagine filing for a tax refund and instead being told the government is assessing penalties and interest for unreported income (the income derived from theft of your Social Security number). That is just one of many scenarios that victims of identity theft find themselves confronted with.

The Court's decision provides a unique opportunity for federal and state law enforcement officers to work together to fight identity theft, most especially that perpetrated by illegal aliens in the workplace. Not only will this prevent the kind of victimization I just described, but it will also help to open up jobs to lawful workers when the perpetrators of such theft are plucked from employment to which they were never entitled. More often than employers or communities wish to admit, it is the disadvantaged and un- or underemployed who lose out when unauthorized aliens occupy those jobs.

Federal agents from the Internal Revenue Service's Criminal Investigations Division, from the Social Security Administration's Office of Inspector General, and the Homeland Security Investigations division of Immigration and Customs Enforcement should, at this very moment, be communicating with one another to establish task forces focusing on identity theft of exactly the sort that Kansas revealed in its prosecutions of these individuals.

What's more, they should be reaching out to state police and investigative agencies to participate in those task forces. What better way to maximize the impact of their efforts and at the same time prove that the kind of "sanctuary" nonsense that has prevailed of late in all too many state and local government jurisdictions is the exception and not the norm in most of America's cities and towns?