Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Supreme Court Decision May Overturn Postville, IA, Convictions

Immigrant activists and lawyers have asked the Justice Department to throw out the guilty pleas of 300 undocumented workers to identity theft, made last year after the Postville, IA, raid. That plea carried a two-year mandatory prison term, followed by deportation. Federal prosecutors have already dropped a charge of identity theft against a management official, and so immigration activists want Justice to do a case-by-case review. The key to the Supreme Court decision was the understanding of "knowingly", which seems to exclude most undocumented workers from criminal intent. They, for the most part, did not know the false identity documents -- usually a Social Security number -- belong to some real person. Further they used the identity, not to hurt that other person, but to get a job. (See New York Times article. See also Times editorial.)

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