Wednesday, February 25, 2009

ICE's Identity Theft Tactics Go Before the Supreme Court

Today the Supreme Court hears arguments on a case of an undocumented steelworker from East Moline, IL. He is charged with "aggravated identity theft". Having admitted guilty to illegal entry into the country and using false documents, he was sentenced to prison, but the court added two years for identity theft. The federal appeals court in St. Louis found for the government, and so the appeal. The identity theft law was written to protect people from having their identities used by others for gain. In this case there is no evidence that anyone was victimized for gain. The steelworker bought false identification that used a real Social Security number. He didn't know it was the number of a real person. The previous identity he used was fictitious. The New York Times argued ICE uses the threat of prosecution for identity theft to get workers rounded up in raids to accept deportation docilely. The Times calls it "unequal justice".

Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D., IL) believes that marches and rallies are no longer the best strategy to gaining comprehensive immigration reform. He suggests that the tragic stories of many immigrant families be simply told, hoping it will stir the nation's conscience. The division of families, especially where some are undocumented and others legally here or even American citizens, is creating untold hardship. Parents are being separated from children. Nativists respond by denying citizenship to the children of the undocumented born here. The lack of compassion that attitude and current enforcement policy show convinces Gutierrez and the Latino Congressional Caucus to appeal to the nation's sense of fairness and moral principles. A campaign, already tested in Chicago and New York, will present the cases of split families in churches to focus on the suffering families "in a biblical, more perspective" -- or showing the problems our immigration laws create for families "with a human face." The National Family Unity Campaign has another event in Providence, RI, and then moves on to sixteen other cities. Legal members will send petitions for those in family who face deportation to President Barack Obama and to Congress. (See Washington Post article.)

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