Supreme Court addresses illegal immigrants charged with identity theft

The U.S. Supreme Court has decided to review a Kansas Supreme Court decision centered around three illegal immigrants who used stolen social security numbers to get jobs in the restaurant industry.

The state of Kansas was joined by ten other states and the Trump administration in urging the court take a look at the controversial decision.

The Case

The case originated when three illegal immigrants, Ramiro Garcia, Donaldo Morales, and Guadalupe Ochoa-Lara were convicted of identity theft for filling out their I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification forms with false social security numbers.

After having originally been convicted for identity theft, the men appealed the decision, citing the 1986 Immigration Reform and Controls Act.

That legislation stipulates information entered on a federal I-9 form cannot be used by a state for prosecution.

The state of Kansas, however, argued that the I-9 information was not the basis of their prosecution against the men. The Appeals Court upheld the conviction, and the case was then taken to the Kansas Supreme Court.

In 2017, the Kansas Supreme Court overturned the convictions and ruled in favor of the three men.

The decision stated that federal immigration laws took precedence and barred the state prosecutions.

A Lot at Stake

This may seem like a small case, but it holds deep ramifications if the latest decision is upheld.

For one, the prosecution maintains the I-9s were not used as the basis for prosecution. Assuming Kansas can prove that claim, there is no basis for the appeal.

The Court of Appeals upheld the convictions because it stated federal law does not preempt state prosecutions, in essence keeping the power within the state government. The Kansas Supreme Court, in essence, is allowing federal overreach by putting federal law over the state prosecution guidelines.

If the Supreme Court overturns the state Supreme Court decision, it will expand states’ abilities to prosecute identity theft crimes committed by illegal immigrants. “Identity crime is a problem that far exceeds the capacity of the United States alone to prosecute,” stated Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt.

Whatever decision is reached, we expect to get a much better idea of whether Chief Justice Roberts holds the Constitution near and dear or if he continues to lean to the left.

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