Is ICE Making More Out of Identity Theft Reason for Recent Raids Than is Warranted?

LatinaLista

Dec. 15 Update: News reports this morning quote ICE officials as having charged more than 100 undocumented immigrants with identity theft. In Colorado, affidavits filed for the search warrant for a Swift plant in Greeley, Colorado showed that all of the stolen identities belonged to U.S. citizens or legalized residents of Latino background.

Reports confirm that many of the those whose IDs were stolen never knew about it before contacted by ICE. An unspecified number of victims are said in news reports to have noticed that credit accounts and telephone accounts had been opened in their names. Yet, no word on how badly impacted were victims’ credit histories.

ICE arrested approximately 1,282 persons at six facilities owned by Swift & Company as part of an ongoing worksite enforcement investigation into immigration violations and a massive identity theft scheme that has victimized large numbers of U.S. citizens and lawful U.S. residents.

(Source: homepage of Immigration and Customs Enforcement)

In Day 2 of the aftermath of the ICE raids on six Swift & Co. meat processing plants, the federal government has changed tactics in its defense of raiding these worksites and cuffing and herding the undocumented immigrants for deportation.

Suddenly, it’s not enough to just say these people were undocumented and working illegally. It used to be federal law enforcement didn’t feel it had to explain its actions to anyone – and really they still don’t.

Yet, with even the White House employing a PR person, image is suddenly everything. And ICE is wanting, as much as any federal department, to project an image that it is acting to secure the United States.

So, instead of focusing on their illegal status, ICE is using the explanation that these workers used fake IDs, meaning fake as it related to them.

In the ICE official release, it stated:

The investigation has uncovered criminal organizations around the country that traffic in genuine birth certificates and Social Security cards belonging to U.S. citizens. In recent months, ICE agents have arrested several members of these organizations in Minnesota, Texas, Utah and Puerto Rico. In some cases, these organizations have stolen legitimate identity documents and Social Security cards from unwitting U.S. citizens. In other cases, they have purchased these documents from U.S. citizens willing to sell their identities for money, including homeless people and individuals in jail.

I say excuse because there is no proof that has been released either to the press or in response to Latina Lista’s request today from ICE officials for information on how many credit histories were affected by the use of these stolen identities.

In fact, ICE admits that In total, agents apprehended 1,282 illegal alien workers on administrative immigration violations at Swift facilities. Of these, 65 have also been charged with criminal violations related to identity theft or other violations, such as re-entry after deportation.

Being apprehended on an “administrative violation” is far less offensive, repulsive and a danger-to-society sounding than to say someone is being apprehended for a “criminal violation” related to identity theft.

By invoking such language in describing the unlawful, because they are unlawful, activities of the undocumented, ICE seems to purposely want to prejudice the public into seeing all undocumented as far worse criminals than simply people who will go to any lengths to provide for their families — even though only less than 65 were actually charged with identity theft.

Again, remember there is no information released of how many credit histories were actually impacted. In fact, ICE in its own release makes some coy admissions that has to make a thinking person wonder just why there is such a big fuss over the fake IDs.

For example:

We believe that the genuine identities of possibly hundreds of U.S. citizens are being stolen or hijacked by criminal organizations and sold to illegal aliens in order to gain unlawful employment in this country.

They “believe.” They can’t say with certainty and though they don’t know an amount, they are speculating into the hundreds when only less than 65 were originally charged with identity theft.

ICE and the FTC are working to identify other victims who may be unaware that their identities have been stolen.

The investigation has uncovered criminal organizations around the country that traffic in genuine birth certificates and Social Security cards belonging to U.S. citizens. In recent months, ICE agents have arrested several members of these organizations in Minnesota, Texas, Utah and Puerto Rico. In some cases, these organizations have stolen legitimate identity documents and Social Security cards from unwitting U.S. citizens. In other cases, they have purchased these documents from U.S. citizens willing to sell their identities for money, including homeless people and individuals in jail.

Not to justify using someone else’s identity, but doesn’t it say something that when the person whose identity is stolen doesn’t even know it until federal officials come knocking on their door to tell them so?

What is that saying?

It says that most of the undocumented didn’t use those documents to harm anyone, but to work. Yes, they were trying to bypass our legal measures for screening them out but the majority were not using the IDs to take out loans to take luxury cruises or to go gamble in Vegas every weekend.

By ICE’s own admission, they entered the Swift plants not with federal arrest warrants but civil search warrants. If there was such a big identity theft ring, why wouldn’t there be arrest warrants or at least some other paperwork stronger than a civil search warrant?

It is obvious that the use of the terms “identity theft” versus “fake IDs” is used to invoke a much more negative image of undocumented immigrants.

Otherwise, the term “identity theft” would be used for every high school and underage college student who wants a night out at local clubs to drink.

In a New York Times’ article, one college sophomore was blunt about the use of fake IDs: “ID’s made by students tend to be much better than ID’s you buy in the Village or Times Square, a 19-year-old Columbia sophomore who has a fake driver’s license and asked not to be identified for fear of the police. As for the importance of having a fake ID, she said: “All of my friends have fake ID’s, everyone I know from high school and all my friends at school. It’s definitely a necessity.”


IDs confiscated at a Boston club
(Source: New York Times)

Some would argue that I’m overreaching here because kids and fake IDs aren’t the same as what undocumented immigrants are using.

Yet, both groups are presenting documents purposely misrepresenting themselves to achieve one goal: for kids – to drink; for the undocumented – to work.

And not all fake IDs are fake. The practice still goes on using someone else’s ID to get into places where the underage student can’t.

But with kids, we see fake IDs as a right of passage until they are legally of age to drink in public.

There is no denying that using someone else’s social security number or birth certificate is just plain wrong but i
f there is a slight silver lining for those who have been victimized — it’s the fact that double the money has been paid into their social security accounts for retirement.

At least the money is not in a federal limbo account, but going directly to someone who deserves it for having had to share their life with a total stranger.

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