Supreme Court Tells Gov't It Can't Use ID Fraud Laws Against Illegal Immigrants

from the stretching-the-law dept

Apparently, the Federal Gov’t has been using an ID fraud law that was passed a few years ago not to go after just those copying the identity of others for the sake of fraud, but illegal immigrants using fake IDs. The two scenarios are entirely different, but the Feds were quick to use the law against the illegal immigrants, as it was an easier tool to use than to go through the standard process of dealing with illegal immigrants. Now, no matter what you think of illegal immigrants and how they should be dealt with, we should all be concerned when the government is stretching the intention of a law beyond its clearly stated purpose… and the Supreme Court seems to agree. It’s now told the government that it clearly went beyond the boundaries of the law in using it against immigrants. The court points out that the law is pretty clear that the person charged under the law must knowingly take the identity of someone else, but totally made up IDs don’t appear covered by the law at all, because the law isn’t intended for fake IDs… it’s intended to deal with those defrauding others by taking their identity.

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Comments on “Supreme Court Tells Gov't It Can't Use ID Fraud Laws Against Illegal Immigrants”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Its kind of ridiculous how police and government officials think they can do anything they want, especially when they outnumber you.

You get pulled over for speeding 10 over the limit, you expect a speeding ticket. The officer can give you whatever vioation he feels neccessary, including reckless driving, careless driving, speeding, failure to control speed. So much bs.

Willton says:

Re: Re:

This is exactly what that law was put in for and anybody knows it. The only people fighting it are the commies who want illegal aliens to vote for them.

So apparently the Supreme Court is communist? I’m sure Justices Roberts, Alito, Scalia and Thomas would be shocked to hear that.

KrK (profile) says:

ID Fraud and illegals

I find the restriction that the Supreme Court has placed on prosecutors that they must *PROVE* the Illegal knew they were using ID that belongs to a real person to be… well, retarded.

The person who’s information is being used by the illegals is being subjected to the consequences; destroyed credit, bad debts, harrassment by collections, etc etc so it’s only LOGICAL that the person who is helping cause the problem be nailed for it. Under the new Supreme Court ruling, the Illegal immigrant just has to say “OH I didn’t know there was a real ‘John Smith’ … Golly gee I’m sorry” and they get to skate. It will be really hard for prosecutors to PROVE to the Court the person knew a real person existed…. However whether they knew it or not, that person who had their ID stolen/copied is now screwed, and has a lot of damage they have to try and fix… the criminal should pay.

Paul Brinker (profile) says:

Um this only applys to made up IDs

AKA a total fake, The post above is about identiy theft which is didffernt then simply having a fake ID. When you have a fake ID you just make up the numbers, same with a fake SSI card, since the information is so often not checked till a cop pulls you over for speeding its generaly not an issue.

All the court said is that the law is ment to deal with identiy theft, not fake IDs. Since the person has a fake ID you need to charge them with the correct crime.

SRS2000 (profile) says:


This is a joke of a ruling. God forbid you ever charge an illegal with a crime.

Having and using a fake ID for fraud isn’t ID fraud? I guess every single person now that buys fraudulent documents that doesn’t know for sure that it is linked to real information won’t be charged.

Every illegal that gets fraudulent documents does it for financial gain. They don’t get them to put their kids in school. The schools are not allowed to ask. They get it to take jobs and cheat the system. Getting a job is financial gain. That explanation Breyer wrote is worthless.

They need an emergency session to put in a new law or edit the current law to remedy this situation.

lul says:

Re: WTF?

Your reading comprehension must be low, or you have short term memory loss…

using an ID fraud law that was passed a few years ago not to go after just those copying the identity of others for the sake of fraud

Do you see that glaring “copying the identity of others” part? That is a really big part of the issue, not your view of illegal immigrants.

Every illegal that gets fraudulent documents does it for financial gain. They don’t get them to put their kids in school.
They get it to take jobs and cheat the system

Please keep the trolling to a minimum.

Tgeigs says:

Re: Re: WTF?

Don’t bother w/these idiots, they won’t get it. They’ll just revert to screaming “They took our dang jobs, they did,” just like in the the South Park episode.

The hysterical thing about this? You get people screaming “God forbid they charge an ILLEGAL w/a crime”, and “They’re just going after the ILLEGALS”, meanwhile, they ignore the ILLEGAL actions of law enforcement.

They aren’t logical, and they aren’t interested in the law, they’re just flatout xenophobic. Go fuck your sisters, you twats.

SRS2000 (profile) says:

Re: Re: WTF?

You evidently live in an area where you have no knowledge of reality.

They do not go and photoshop up their own documents with made up numbers. They buy essentially seed information and paperwork. That or they buy someones SSN #. With that they go and get other legit documentation from government offices that fail to ever verify information because they are not allowed to.

This past weekend in the hospital a family from Mexico was discussing how they had already sold their new born childs SSN to 2 people.

It’s also not as if these people are using their own name and information. They use a different name. Do you really think that none of this ends up linking to actual citizens who followed the law coming here or were born here and might happen to live in the apartment complex of someone who is using a common name for their “completely fake” information?

As far as the government acting illegally.. No. It wouldn’t bother me just as much that they are prosecuting people who ARE committing fraud and various other crimes and should not even be here in the first place. The ruling is splitting hairs. These people SHOULD be prosecuted. They are not going after innocent people.

The laws wording should have been changed or they need to create another law to deal with it.

Tgeigs says:

Re: Re: Re: WTF?

“As far as the government acting illegally.. No. It wouldn’t bother me just as much that they are prosecuting people who ARE committing fraud and various other crimes and should not even be here in the first place. The ruling is splitting hairs. These people SHOULD be prosecuted. They are not going after innocent people”

So the govt. isn’t responsible for correctly applying the law, so long as the people they are going after are in any way illegal?

Fine, charge them w/murder and extradite them, then. What difference does it make what you charge them with, right?

I’m sorry, but that is a completely useless statement. If the govt. isn’t going to bother charging these people CORRECTLY, then they shouldn’t charge them at all.

Tgeigs says:

Re: Re: Re:3 WTF?

Well so long as you want to take an arrogant attitude:

“It wouldn’t bother me just as much that they are prosecuting people who ARE committing fraud and various other crimes and should not even be here in the first place”

Has all kinds of syntax/grammar errors and I had to reread it a couple times before hazarding a guess as to its meaning, so maybe we both need to be more clear.

Anonymous Coward says:

Wow, frustrating comments here. Illegal aliens are breaking the law, but the intent of this law is different.

This is a giant problem. And your views on illegal aliens are irrelevant. The government has moved beyond the law in an attempt to punish illegal aliens.

If the objection to illegal immigrants is in fact that they are illegal (and not just racism), then it should bother you just as much when the government acts illegally.

Anonymous Coward says:

It seems pretty simple, a fake ID, a total fake, not one that is taking the information from anyone else, is created in order to provide proof of legality for employment. That is illegal in and of itself. The law in question is creating a fake ID to steal someone else’s identity in order to gain access to their bank account, credit card, etc. The identity theft law does not apply if the person’s fake ID has their real name on it, and the fake part comes by the fact that they are here illegally. Simply charge them with the crime they have committed, problem solved. My guess is that the reason the other law was even being used is that it probably carries stiffer penalties and it helps those in power gain an appearance of being tough on illegal immigration.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Bingo. The penalty for aggravated identity theft (the law in question here) is something like a min of 2 years in jail. They use that to threaten people with to get them to plea down to lesser charges (the charges they should have been charged with to begin with) so that way they dont have to bother to actually have a real trial.

All the supreme court did was read the law that said “knowingly transfers, possesses or uses, without lawful authority, a means of identification of another person.” and concluded that knowingly applies to all conditions there. The DOJ was arguing that knowingly only applies to “transfers”.

That is all, they just read it and said yeah you guys don’t know how to read English but this is what it means.

They didn’t make up some new law, or massively change an existing one. They just clarified what this specific one meant because apparently some people don’t know how to read.

If you don’t like the law, write a letter to your congressman. They are the ones who wrote it that way.

Anonymous Coward says:

I agree with the Supreme Court on this one. The lower courts were trying to get rid of illegal aliens with a law that wasn’t designed for doing so. It wasn’t used to punish aliens, it was used to get rid of them.

If you don’t want illegals here, enforce the law we have and deport them. To hard to deport them? Change the law. If you think illegals should stay here, then change the law. Stop using backdoor methods to push your agenda. Either enforce the law or get rid of it. Courts should only be enforcing the laws, not stretching the meanings to push someone’s agenda.

Tgeigs says:

Re: Re:

Correct, the identity theft would have been perpetrated by the person SUPPLYING the stolen ID to the “illegal”.

God this whole debate is stupid.

DA’s were doing something illegal by incorrectly prosecuting w/laws that are unapplicable to the charged individuals.

Illegal aliens are doing something illegal by not following our guidelines on how to enter/exit/work in this country.

So you’ve got one set of people acting illegally to stop another group from acting illegally? Now talk to me some more about our moral authority.


Tgeigs says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

It’s not a matter of shifting blame, it’s a matter of successfully and legally addressing the problem, which in the case of the law applied is identity theft. Seems to me to be a lot like the drug trade.

You can either go after all the individual users and get nowhere, or take out the source and leave the users w/no way to get the illicit material.

SRS2000 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Yes.. Because our war on drugs has worked so well.
As long as there is a demand for it.. People will supply it.

You have to go after everyone to stop it or at least try and minimize it. The people supplying the IDs. The people buying and using the IDs. The businesses who gladly use the people working with the fake IDs.

Willton says:

Re: Re:

What happens when an illegal buys a ID where the name and social security number matches?

Obviously it would steal an identity, but the person buying it wouldn’t know they were buying a stolen identity, would that fit the crime? According to this ruling, it wouldn’t.

Nor should it. A person should not be convicted of a crime if he does not have the requisite criminal intent. That is Criminal Law 101. If the illegal alien does not know that he’s taking someone else’s identity and using it for ill, then he should not be criminalized for that crime.

There are more suitable charges to bring against such people than identity theft.

AZ says:

SS vs ID

The key here is the SS#. You can make up a name, address, etc, but in order to work in the US, you must have a valid SS# that is input by the employer for their tax records. Unless they are paying under the table, which some do.

E-Verify is a system that tracks the SS# of workers in the US determining their eligibility, but is currently voluntary. I say make if mandatory, it should help clarify.

DomM says:

Illegal court rulings

Giggle Giggle Snort Snort.

What part of criminal activity ceases to be criminal? When the the communist government of the USA says it is. Is anyone paying attention? Illegal actions must have consequences. ID laws are there to protect citizens. The “supreme court is nothing. It has proven time and again it is worthless. When will we have a government for the citizens of the USA? Vote them all out. Make them responsible for their actions. hang them all for treason.

Elizabeth Miller (user link) says:

you are all wrong

In this decision, the Supreme Court did not decide whether or not the Feds ‘should’ use this statute to go after the illegal aliens who use the IDs. Rather, the Court, as it is constitutionally instructed to do, decided how the statute in question should interpreted. In this particular case, doing so involved a grammatical analysis – deciding to what elements of the crime did the ‘knowingly’ mens rea of the statute apply. It is an interesting opinion in that, while it just another exercise in interpretation, doing so required led to an analysis in how to apply grammar to interpretation. It is unfortunate that people, missing the point and true efforts of the justices, always want to layer a political (by this I mean: effecting a policy outcome)motivation to the Court’s decisions. This opinion is, i think, a good one to check out for an example of how courts interpret statutes. In addition to the majority opinion, the concurring opinions demonstrate how can justices may view their roles somewhat differently and yet arrive at the same result. Any grammar nerd should definitely check it out.

yodaq says:

This is a non-issue...

All the swirl here is misplaced. The obviously conflicted powers that be have made a mess of immigration law enforcement and they were using ID theft laws to prosecute illegal entry crimes. I want the border and immigration laws enforced to the letter, but I think this was the right call. Everything possible should be dome to use the correct laws for the appropriate offense. When the laws are squishy (living breathing documents…) then they become only whatever the current occupant of authority wishes it to mean, and that is a big problem. These laws should be precise and executed according to the intent when enacted. This also forces authorities to confront and correct the use of the proper immigration regulations, rather than side stepping the issue for expediency…

anonymous says:

Identity theft, business' are ok with it

the company I work for has a policy that if you have been using someone else’s user name and social security number to work but come to them to an admit it and give them your true name then you won’t be punished and the social security administration won’t be notified. we had a person that’s been using another person’s name and social security number since 1999 and they finally admitted to it and nothing happened to him. what about the person who’s been victimized by having someone else use their social security number? they aren’t legal citizens but won’t be turned in, that’s just not right. I don’t know how to report it without losing my job. don’t they have an anonymous hotline that you can contact without taking the chance on losing everything to report fraud?

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