Supreme Court Will Decide if U.S. States Can Prosecute Undocumented Immigrants Who Use False Social Security Numbers for Identity Theft

According to reporting from USA Today, the Supreme Court of the United States has agreed to hear an appeal from the state of Kansas — which is leading a coalition of ten other states — regarding  undocumented immigrants using false Social Security numbers to obtain employment. Kansas, along with other conservative leaning states, is seeking the authority to charge these immigrants with serious identity theft crimes. Here, our Los Angeles immigration lawyer explains exactly what is at stake this case.

What You Need to Know: Kansas v. Garcia

The Facts

Ramiro Garcia was pulled over for speeding in Overland Park, Kansas. During the traffic stop, he told the officer that he was going so fast because he was on his way to work. A records check apparently revealed that he was already under investigation. The next day, Kansas law enforcement obtained additional information directly from his employer. It was then discovered that Mr. Garcia was an undocumented immigrant and that he was using a false Social Security number. Kansas prosecutors charged him with identity theft under the state’s criminal statutes.

The Legal Question

The identity theft charges against Mr. Garcia, and two other men who were arrested under similar circumstances, were eventually dismissed on the grounds that the Immigration Reform and Control Act preempts individual states from bringing such cases. In the view of the Kansas Supreme Court, the federal government has the sole power to prosecute an undocumented immigrant for using a false Social Security number to get a job. Kansas is appealing this ruling. The fundamental question at stake in this case asks the following: Can a state bring a criminal identity theft charge against an undocumented immigrant simply because they used a false Social Security number? It should be made clear that these cases do not involve any allegations of actual theft.

The Stakes

Notably, the Trump Administration wanted the Supreme Court to take up this case. Should the nation’s highest court rule in their favor, it will give individual states additional authority to bringing harsh criminal charges against undocumented immigrants simply for doing what they had to do to get employment. If the court rules in favor of Kansas and the Trump Administration, the effects will vary widely around the country — but it will undoubtedly be very bad news for some undocumented immigrants.  

The Supreme Court is currently set to hear this case in its the fall term that starts in October. A decision may not come until sometime early in 2020. Our legal team will keep close watch on any developments in this case as well as in all of the other immigration cases that are set to go before the Supreme Court this year.

Contact Our Los Angeles Immigration Lawyer Today

At the Law Office of Joshua L. Goldstein, PC, we are Southern California-based immigration law firm committed to providing our clients with sophisticated, attentive legal representation. If you or your loved one needs immigration help, please call our Los Angeles law office today at (213) 262-2000 to arrange a confidential initial consultation.