Americans might generally think that if someone forges a document and uses a Social Security number that does not belong to them, they should go to jail.
Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., believes if you are an illegal alien and you do these things, you should become a U.S. citizen. He made his case for this in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
When the committee was considering amendments to its immigration "reform" bill on May 20, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, pointed to a report published by The Associated Press in March.
This report told the story of Candida L. Gutierrez, a Houston schoolteacher, and Benita Cardona-Gonzalez, an illegal alien from Mexico who stole Gutierrez's identity.
"When Gutierrez's identity was stolen, the thief didn't stop at opening fraudulent credit and bank accounts," the AP reported. "Cardona-Gonzalez assumed Gutierrez's persona completely, using it to get a job, a driver's license, a mortgage and medical care for her children. She even put the stolen name on the birth certificates of her two U.S.-born children in the spots where they list who's the mother."
The identity theft went on for 12 years. Finally, Gutierrez's husband, Brenden Marquardt, pushed the case.
"He traced the identity thief to Topeka, and on the Internet he found a press release from the U.S. attorney's office in Kansas about the prosecutions of other illegal immigrants working at Reser's Fine Foods, the same manufacturer where Cardona-Gonzalez worked," the AP reported. "He contacted federal authorities in Kansas, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Brent Anderson took up their case."
Cardona-Gonzalez, the AP reported, was sentenced to 18 months for possessing fraudulent identification documents. But other illegal aliens who have misused Social Security numbers will get something quite different if Schumer has his way.
After pointing to the victimization of Candida Gutierrez, Grassley explained to the Judiciary Committee a simple amendment he was offering to the immigration bill.
"The secretary (of homeland security) may not grant registered provisional immigrant status to an alien under this section unless the alien fully discloses to the secretary all the names and Social Security account numbers that the alien has ever used to obtain employment in the United States," said Grassley's amendment.
According to the immigration "reform" bill, a "registered provisional immigrant" (RPI) is an illegal alien who the secretary of homeland security has been authorized to convert into a legal alien, who can then work and live in the United States.
Grassley's amendment would not have prohibited illegal aliens from being converted into legal aliens just because they had used names and Social Security numbers that did not belong to them. It would only have required that the illegal aliens make the names and numbers they used known to DHS before they could be granted the right to legally live in the United States.
"If Congress is going to adopt legislation that grants legal status to the 12 million undocumented living unlawfully in the United States, it should not thumb its nose at the millions of Americans who are victims of identity theft, often perpetrated by an undocumented person who steals Social Security numbers to get jobs, benefits, driver's licenses and more," said Grassley.
"This amendment will simply require the person applying for RPI status to disclose any previously used Social Security numbers," said Grassley. "It's the first step to helping clean up the mess that's been created for the victim of identity theft. The amendment also authorizes certain federal agencies, upon receipt of this information, to notify individuals who were the victims."
Schumer dismissed Grassley's proposal.
"When people are living in undocumented status, there are times, I suppose, when they've made up identities, made up Social Security numbers," Schumer told his Judiciary Committee colleagues. "How are they going to remember all that, and are we going to delay RPI status?
"(The) purpose of this is to bring people out of the shadows," Schumer said of the "reform" bill. "We all know when they lived in the shadows, they had to forge documents, forge Social Security numbers, et cetera. We want to stop that once and for all so it never happens again. But this isn't going to help. This is going to leave millions of people still in the shadows and not able to come out of the shadows and won't solve the problem that we're trying to solve, which is to have as few people here illegally as possible, put them on RPI, provisional status and then get them on a path to citizenship."
"I just don't see how, when you've lived here 10 years, and you've had many different identities, many different numbers, you're going to remember them all," said Schumer.
The committee defeated Grassley's amendment 8 to 10 on a party-line vote.
As this column has noted before, the inspector general of the Social Security Administration reported in a 2008 audit report that U.S. employers filed 10.1 million W-2s in tax year 2005 on which the name and the Social Security number did not match. In that same year, 1,650 employers filed more than 500 no-match W-2s -- and one employer filed 37,375.