Monday, October 20, 2008
The Supreme Court granted cert. today in Flores-Figueroa v. U.S., (No. 08-108). The case deals with federal prosecutors' attempts to bring theft-identity charges against undocumented workers who use other individuals' Social Security numbers to obtain employment. The circuits have been split on these attempts, as the New York Times describes:
The government has used the charges -- with the possibility of prison time -- to persuade people to plead guilty to lesser immigration violations. In other cases, defendants have been convicted of ''aggravated identity theft,'' even without proof that they knew their phony ID numbers belonged to real people. . . .
The central question is whether the defendant must know that the counterfeit identification belongs to someone else. Federal prosecutors have increasingly been bringing the more serious identity theft charges against undocumented immigrants, including many who were arrested in raids on meatpacking plants.
Defense lawyers have argued that their clients should not be charged with stealing an identity because the immigrants were seeking documentation only to allow them to work. They didn't know if the numbers were fictitious or belonged to someone else, their lawyers say. . . . The Bush administration, however, contends that the conviction was justified under a provision of federal law that makes it a crime to ''knowingly'' use a means of identification of another person.
Yet another example of ICE throwing the book at undocumented workers. I don't know enough about this law to have a decent opinion on whether it's should be covered. It does seem, however, that this isn't the type of action that Congress probably considered when enacting the law on "aggravated identity theft."
Hat Tip: Dennis Walsh