States Can Address the Negative Impacts of Illegal Immigration Using Tools They Already Have

By Ronald W. Mortensen on July 5, 2012

While some see the recent Supreme Court ruling on Arizona's S.B.1070 as "The beginning of the end of the anti-immigrant state law movement", my colleague John Feere, points out that "As a result of rulings from the Supreme Court and lower courts, the message is clear that even though a line must be drawn somewhere, states do have a role to play when it comes to immigration."

Although there will be still more court decisions before a line is finally drawn, states are not defenseless. After all, the states and the people have the ability to address negative impacts of illegal immigration by using the powers reserved to them under the 10th Amendment of the United States Constitution.

This means that:

  • State and local law enforcement officials can still arrest and prosecute the estimated 75 percent of illegal aliens who use fraudulent documents and stolen identities in order to obtain jobs under existing state laws.

  • Officials can ensure that federal and state benefits only go to authorized individuals and hold those who try to cheat the system accountable.

  • Individuals and citizen groups can pressure state and local law enforcement officials to enforce state document fraud, forgery, and identity theft laws against illegal aliens just as they currently do against American citizens who commit these crimes.

  • Parents can demand that states tell them when their children's identities are being used by adults for employment purposes and that the book be thrown at the perpetrators.

  • Citizens can individually and collectively refuse to deal with businesses that put profit ahead of protecting American children from employment-related identity theft.

Enforce State Document Fraud and Identity Theft Laws

Law enforcement officials can uphold their oaths of office and protect American citizens and legal immigrants from the negative impacts of employment-related document fraud and identity theft by simply enforcing existing state laws.

For example, when the St. George, Utah police department discovers someone using a fraudulently obtained identification document, regardless of who the person using the fake ID is, it goes one step further and determines where the person works in order to see if the document has been used unlawfully for employment purposes since this can lead to felony charges.

In Florida, after a large number of new workers were attracted to construction jobs following a hurricane, sheriffs in the Florida Panhandle noticed a sharp increase in both the use of false documents and of identity theft. The perpetrators included both illegal aliens and U.S. citizens with criminal warrants trying to avoid detection.

The Florida sheriffs proceeded to expand the investigative scope of an existing multi-county task force. Acting on tips from community members, officers launched investigations and within three months of the first inspections, communities in the Panhandle region began to report that people who generally use fraudulent documents to obtain employment were leaving the area because they were having difficulty finding jobs.

Enforce Benefit Eligibility Requirements

State and local officials already have a responsibility to enforce existing laws and regulations to ensure that public benefits are not granted to individuals who are using fraudulently obtained Social Security numbers. They can also, within limitations imposed on them by the federal government, ensure that anyone using a fraudulent Social Security number or other fraudulent document is immediately turned over to law enforcement officials for investigation and prosecution under existing state laws. And they can ensure that the victims of Social Security number-only identity theft are notified. Finally, they can advocate for changes in federal laws and regulations that currently protect criminals rather than victims.

Identify and Prosecute Job-Related Identity Thieves

Law enforcement officials have been exceedingly lax in enforcing document fraud and identity theft laws because they are non-violent crimes that take considerable investigative efforts. In addition, a large number of senior law enforcement officials have caved into blackmail by illegal aliens who threaten to withhold support for the police if they aren't granted immunity for document fraud and identity theft.

Citizen groups such as the Citizens Council on Illegal Immigration have demonstrated how well-organized and dedicated citizens can encourage law enforcement officials to pursue and prosecute individuals who are committing document fraud and identity theft.

Individual citizens can also play a key role in counteracting the negative impacts of illegal immigration. For example, when Jennifer Andrushko, the mother of a five-year-old child, found that her son's Social Security number was being used for employment purposes, local law enforcement officials refused to help. Through unrelenting pressure, she single-handedly forced state officials to investigate the crime and a woman illegally in the United States was eventually arrested and charged with three counts of identity theft and two counts of forgery.

As the case proceeded through the courts, Andrushko continued her own investigation and found that the woman had used her son's Social Security number to obtain medical services, which opened her up to additional criminal charges.

Andrushko co-founded Defending our Children's Future to protect children from identity theft, testified before Congress, appeared on the Anderson Cooper show, became a regular on local talk radio and became a political activist.

A guilty plea was eventually obtained in her son's case and Andrushko continues to fight to defend the tens of thousands of other Utah children who are victims of employment related identity theft.

Let Parents Know when Their
Children's Identities Have Been Compromised

Citizens can demand that Congress pass legislation introduced by Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) that requires the IRS to notify Americans when their Social Security numbers are being fraudulently used for employment purposes and to refer such cases to the appropriate law enforcement officials. The legislation also closes a loophole that allows a person to use the identifying information of another person for employment purposes without fear of prosecution under federal law.

Citizens can also demand that state officials establish systems that allow parents to learn if their children's Social Security numbers are being used for employment or benefit purposes by comparing the children's Social Security numbers against state-maintained payroll and other databases. They can also fight to make public the identities of employers who are paying salaries to anyone using a fraudulently obtained child's Social Security number.

Demand that Employers Protect Children from ID Theft

No additional legislation is needed in order for citizens to demand that employers protect children from employment-related identity theft by simply verifying that the people they hire are who they say they are and that the documents they are using were legitimately issued to them.

For example, citizens can refuse to do business with employers who do not use the federal government's free E-Verify system, which ensures that employees are not using a child's stolen Social Security number. (An adult using a child's stolen identity may get by using the child's name and Social Security number, but he won't be able to use the child's birth date so E-Verify will reject him and he won't be hired.)

If employers don't like E-Verify, they can hire a private company to run background checks on new hires and achieve the same results as E-Verify; plus they may also turn up criminal records and other negative information.

If employers don't want to pay for the background check and don't want to use E-Verify, they can always use the federal government's free Social Security Number Verification System to ensure that employees are using numbers legally assigned to them.

In summary, states do not need to pass immigration-related legislation in order to address the negative impacts of illegal immigration. All they have to do is enforce the laws that are already on the books. And all citizens have to do is hold employers and public officials accountable when they fail to enforce and obey those laws.