Has an Imposter Stolen Your Identity?

Parsing Immigration Policy, Episode 78

By Jessica M. Vaughan and James Scott on November 3, 2022

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Listen to "Has an Imposter Stolen Your Identity?" on Spreaker.


Cartels trafficking drugs into the United States rely on individuals using stolen identities to transport and distribute their illegal product. Identity theft, the criminal act of assuming another person's name, address, social security number, and date of birth in order to perpetrate fraud, allows illegal aliens to fraudulently obtain valid state driver's licenses. But more police are being trained to identify these “identity imposters.”

This week, James Scott, a retired Massachusetts’ police officer, joins Parsing Immigration Policy to talk about a highly successful program he has developed to detect certain types of ID theft, about which he trains law enforcement officers around the country. He notes that driver's licenses should not automatically be accepted at face value, and has developed protocols and indicators to help law enforcement officers pick up on likely imposters involved in crime.

Scott says that there are five to eight million imposters in the country who hold a driver’s license issued on the basis of a stolen Social Security number and identity, which comes at a high price to the victims and to American communities. In addition to facilitating the drug trafficking that contributes to the opioid epidemic in the United States, ID theft enables illegal aliens to also access welfare benefits to which they are not entitled. He describes cases in New England, where over a three-year period of time, more than 100 imposters were discovered to have stolen $3.1 million in welfare, health and housing benefits.

In the closing commentary, Jessica Vaughan, the Center’s director of policy studies and this week’s host of Parsing Immigration Policy, highlights the resurgence in issuances of temporary visas – seven million were issued by the State Department in FY2022. This uptick in temporary visas will result in a larger number of visa overstayers joining the country’s illegalalien population and have negative impacts on the United States’ labor market. These numbers, and all the most recent immigration statistics, are available in the Center’s Immigration Data Portal.


Jessica Vaughan is a Director of Policy Studies at the Center for Immigration Studies.


James Scott is a retired Massachusetts Police Officer.


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Operation Double Trouble

Illegal, but Not Undocumented

Immigration Data Portal

2016 Heroin Overdose Report


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Intro Montage

Voices in the opening montage:

  • Sen. Barack Obama at a 2005 press conference.
  • Sen. John McCain in a 2010 election ad.
  • President Lyndon Johnson, upon signing the 1965 Immigration Act.
  • Booker T. Washington, reading in 1908 from his 1895 Atlanta Exposition speech.
  • Laraine Newman as a "Conehead" on SNL in 1977.
  • Hillary Clinton in a 2003 radio interview.
  • Cesar Chavez in a 1974 interview.
  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi speaking to reporters in 2019.
  • Prof. George Borjas in a 2016 C-SPAN appearance.
  • Sen. Jeff Sessions in 2008 comments on the Senate floor.
  • Charlton Heston in "Planet of the Apes".