Identity theft is among the most devastating crimes. Anyone who has been a victim of identity theft can attest to the long-term disruption of one’s life and property as a result of a stolen Social Security number, not to mention being on the hook for the criminality, debt, and taxes incurred by the perpetrator. There should be nothing political about solving this problem.
Yet when it comes to a primary source of identity theft – illegal immigration – the government has done everything possible to cover up the problem. Isn’t it time that Congress finally use the obvious tools it has to identify, notify, deter, and prosecute all cases in order to stop this growing menace?
As we mentioned yesterday, the fact that the illegal alien alleged murderer of Molly Tibbetts was able to work and remain in the country undetected is not an anomaly. Many illegal aliens engage in identity theft, and that is the lynchpin to their flourishing here. The absence of that loophole and the lack of an official identity would essentially make life impossible for them here and would deter them from coming.
But it’s more than just stopping illegal immigration. Regardless of one’s view on immigration, nobody wants to ignore the threat of identity theft. For better or worse, government has forced us into a Social Security identification system that defines our entire lives. As such, it is the foremost responsibility of the federal government to protect that identity. So why is it that illegals can steal our identities with impunity and the IRS and Social Security Administration (SSA) refuse to cooperate with the DHS by identifying those numbers used multiple times, informing the victims, identifying the perpetrators, and initiating prosecution against them?
Illegal immigrants are the 800-pound gorilla of identity theft
According to the Center for Immigration Studies, “Eight of the 10 states with the highest percentage of illegal aliens in their total population are among the top 10 states in identity theft.” In Arizona alone, over one million children are victims of stolen identity, more than four times the national rate. Hispanic-Americans with Latino-sounding surnames are most vulnerable to such theft. Illegal aliens seeking employment will often be given the stolen Social Security numbers of children by the smuggling industry, because that will take longer to be detected. It has devastating consequences for the child victims, who begin their adulthood saddled with all of the criminality, fiscal liabilities, and taxes of these illegal aliens.
In 2017, the IRS inspector general estimated that 1.4 million illegals used stolen Social Security cards to pay taxes, yet found that the agency does a poor job of informing victims. Another 2.18 million use Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ITINs), incomprehensibly handed out by the IRS to collect refundable credits. But these people are also likely stealing Social Security numbers, because they are working on the books and must have supplied the employer with some fake number. Thus, by lawlessly issuing ITINs and giving illegal aliens $4.2 billion in additional child tax credits (likely higher now, due to the expanded refundable credit in tax legislation), the IRS is openly inviting illegals to work and steal Social Security numbers.
And those are just the number of illegals who use Social Security cards for work on the books. The total number of stolen numbers, including those used for children or others not seeking employment but seeking other benefits, is likely much higher. In fact, the reality that 75 percent of illegals commit felonies and steal identity is so obvious that even the Left uses it as a talking point to buttress its assertion that illegals help fix Social Security’s solvency.
The problem of identity theft is so rampant among illegal aliens that, according to the AP, in 2004, the IRS found 7.9 million W-2s with names that didn’t match Social Security numbers provided. More than half of those were filed in California, Texas, Florida, and Illinois, among the top states of residence for illegals. Yet the IRS has done nothing to stop encouraging this fraud or inform the victims. It has the data to crush Americans if they step out of line but acts impotent in using its treasure trove of information to protect victims and help the Department of Justice prosecute and deter the illegal aliens.
Anyone who tells you illegal immigration is a victimless crime and we should just focus on their hardships and not on the collateral damage to Americans is willfully blind. The rampant identity theft is in addition to the fiscal drain, the drugs, crime, and gangs, and the social upheaval in our communities and schools endemic to illegal immigration.
A simple fix and no-brainer politics
If the GOP Congress was actually committed to the rule of law, protecting all Americans from such a grave threat, and deterring criminal aliens, it would immediately promote a comprehensive agenda to identify and deter identity theft. In addition, just from the political standpoint (which is all they care about), is there any issue more of a slam dunk with voters than stopping identity theft?
Here are some things Trump and/or Congress can do to end identity theft by illegal immigrants:
1) Mandate that the Social Security Administration (SSA) and the IRS immediately inform anyone when his or her number has been used by someone else and flag other anomalies. Also, the SSA must immediately stop using that number and issuing it to newborn children. These are things the administration can do even without legislation. They are also a part of Rep. Lamar Smith’s E-Verify bill (H.R. 3711).
2) Mandate that these same agencies constantly share information with the DHS so they can inform the employer that the employee has engaged in identity theft and is an illegal immigrant.
3) Require that any employer terminate such employee upon notification. One way to put teeth in this requirement is to pass H.R. 176, Rep. Steve King’s New IDEA Act, which would deny tax deductions for wages and benefits paid by businesses to or on behalf of illegals.
4) Mandate immediate ICE apprehension of any alien who has engaged in identity theft.
5) Mandate that the DHS, upon notification from the SSA or IRS, inform the law enforcement in that local jurisdiction of the true identity of the individual. State and local governments should also be required to use E-verify for services such as voter registration, vehicle registration, and driver’s licenses to catch and apprehend these illegal aliens. As we’ve learned from the alleged murderer of Molly Tibbetts and countless others, local law enforcement, employers, or local government services will be the first to come into contact with illegal aliens but are in the dark on their true identity. The DHS, armed with the databases from the IRS and SSA, and working with the other security-related federal agencies, has the connections and expertise in these countries to ascertain their true identities. This is why federal-local cooperation is so important in pre-empting the ticking time bombs. A match made in heaven.
6) Prohibit the IRS from issuing ITINs to illegal aliens and require the agency to check with the DHS on immigration status before mailing out refundable credits. Not only can Trump order this now without legislation, I have argued that the 1996 welfare reform bill requires such action.
7) In addition to notifying, sharing information cross-agency, and deterring, we need to prosecute the perpetrators for aggravated identity theft. But of course, behind every bad policy is a dumb court case. In Flores-Figueroa v. United States (2009), the Supreme Court essentially let all illegal aliens off the hook by ruling that prosecutors must prove they intended to steal someone’s specific identity, according to the court’s reading of the current statute. Simply being handed a number from the coyote smuggling mill is just identity fraud, in the court’s estimation. This is bunk. Every illegal knows that, as part of the process, they are likely receiving a number from an American. Congress can easily clarify the threshold for aggravated identity theft with a legislative fix. This would seriously deter the criminal alien rings that dish out stolen identities.
The broad point is that Big Brother is armed with a treasure trove of data that it uses efficiently against Americans. Why is it that when it comes to protecting the innocent, identifying and apprehending criminals, protecting our sovereignty, and sharing information, the government agencies are suddenly impotent? Cross-agency cooperation is critical.
Obviously, Democrats could never support this proposal because it would have the side effect of essentially deterring all incentives to come here illegally. They do not want to solve that problem, because to them, it’s the solution. Thus, they are willing to ignore identity theft in order to achieve that solution of a permanent Democrat majority with open borders. The question is: will Republicans actually embrace such a grave concern and popular solution, or will they allow the remainder of this election to be about Mueller and Stormy Daniels?
Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @RMConservative.