DACA Recipients Should Make Restitution to Their American Identity Theft Victims

By Ronald W. Mortensen on October 26, 2017

As my colleague Jessica Vaughn testified before the Senate Judiciary committee:

[I]t would be appropriate to have [Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals — DACA] applicants disclose any misuse of Social Security numbers or other personal identifiers so that the system can be purged and corrected, and so that the true number holders can be informed. It would also be appropriate to impose an additional fine on the many DACA recipients who worked illegally before obtaining DACA status and improperly used false identity information. The fines could be used to establish a restitution fund for the victims.

According to a survey jointly published by Tom K. Wong of the University of California, San Diego; United We Dream (UWD); the National Immigration Law Center (NILC); and the Center for American Progress, 43.9 percent of all surveyed DACA recipients had worked prior to gaining DACA status, and that percentage increases to 60.7 percent for DACA recipients over 25 years of age. However, these individuals were unable to legally obtain Social Security numbers for their pre-DACA employment, which means that they used fraudulently obtained Social Security numbers that all-too-often belong to American citizens, including American children.

The use of unlawfully obtained Social Security numbers by individuals eligible for DACA status is so pervasive that the Obama administration instructed applicants not to disclose their illegally obtained numbers. That ensured that Americans who are the victims of DACA identity theft were left with destroyed credit, arrest records attached to their names, unpaid tax liabilities, and corrupted medical records while the DACA recipients walked away scot-free from multiple felonies — forgery, Social Security fraud, perjury on I-9 forms, and identity theft.

Now that President Trump has terminated the Obama administration's DACA program, any new program passed by Congress must require all recipients to disclose the Social Security number(s) they used for pre-DACA employment or other purposes. Furthermore, DACA recipients must be required to make restitution to the owners of those Social Security numbers as a condition of adjusting their immigration status and in return for amnesty from identity theft and other job-related felonies.

Combining mercy for children who were brought to the United State illegally by their parents with justice for their American victims is a win-win situation, as opposed to the current mercy only, win-lose situation. By making restitution, DACA recipients resolve their illegal immigrant status and receive amnesty from job-related felonies while their American citizen victims are able to recover from the devastating financial, emotional, psychological and even criminal burdens that identity theft places on them.

Providing justice for the victims of DACA applicants would require the establishment of what might be called the DACA Victims' Restitution Fund (DVRF). The DVRF would be funded by a fine paid by each DACA recipient who used an unlawfully obtained Social Security number for any purpose before obtaining DACA status. The fine might be $3,000 for the unlawful use of one number and $5,000 for the unlawful use of two or more Social Security numbers.

When DACA applications are processed, the owners of illegally used Social Security numbers would be notified by federal authorities that their numbers have been compromised. All expenses incurred by these American citizen victims in order to recover their identities or the identities of their children and clear their credit, arrest, and medical records along with wiping out unpaid tax liabilities linked to their Social Security numbers will be reimbursed from the DVRF with a maximum reimbursement per identity theft victim of $5,000.

If DACA applicants and/or their parents, who could afford to pay a coyote to traffic their children into the United States, don't have the money to pay the fines, the U.S. Chamber, Mark Zuckerberg's Fwd.US, religious organizations, employers, politicians, sanctuary cities, and others who support DACA can help applicants cover their fines rather than simply insisting that they be granted amnesty from their felonies while leaving their American victims holding the bag.

The bottom line is that if illegal immigration issues are to be resolved, the solution must include mercy combined with justice. If this can be achieved in the DACA program, then there may be hope for addressing even more complicated immigration issues.