Supreme Court to settle illegal immigrant-identity fraud case
The Supreme Court said Monday it will hear a case involving whether states can prosecute illegal immigrants for identity theft if they give employers fake Social Security numbers on their work papers.
While the federal government has such powers, since the work papers are federal immigration forms, it’s not clear whether states themselves can also prosecute someone based on the bogus information.
Kansas had passed a law trying to impose penalties, but the state’s high court blocked the measure, saying federal law blocked states from using any of the information employees put on their I-9 forms.
Kansas asked the Supreme Court to take the case, asking the justices to decide whether the 1986 immigration law really does bar states from using information, even commonly used Social Security numbers, from the I-9 forms. If that is what the law says, Kansas asked the justices to strike that part of the law down as an unconstitutional infringement on states’ own police powers.
The state says that with identity theft an increasingly devastating crime, and with illegal immigrants regularly using stolen Social Security numbers to get jobs they aren’t eligible for, it is time for a crackdown.
The U.S. Justice Department has weighed in on the side of Kansas, saying it thinks states should be allowed to use stolen identity information gleaned from an I-9 document to charge someone with state crimes.
“Nothing in the statute suggests that Congress intended to carve out an excep- tion to generally applicable state laws for the exclusive benefit of unauthorized aliens,” wrote Solicitor General Noel J. Francisco.
The case is Kansas v. Garcia. It is likely to be heard early in the court’s 2019-2020 term, which begins in October.