Supreme Court to decide if states can prosecute undocumented immigrants for identity theft

Supreme Court to decide if states can prosecute undocumented immigrants for identity theft

Originally published by Yahoo News

Undocumented immigrants who use false Social Security numbers to get jobs would be easier to prosecute under a case the Supreme Court agreed to hear Monday.

The justices will hear Kansas' appeal of a lower court's decision that the federal government has exclusive jurisdiction over such cases – a ruling the Trump administration agrees should be overturned.

The key to the case is the appearance of the false Social Security numbers on a federal immigration form. Kansas and a coalition of 10 other states say they should be able to use that information to combat identity theft.

The Kansas Supreme Court threw out convictions of three undocumented immigrants, ruling that only the federal government could prosecute such cases based on information that comes from the federal form. 

"The victims of identity theft can face devastating consequences," Kansas Solicitor General Stephen McAllister said in urging the justices to hear the case. "This nationwide, indeed worldwide, problem and its consequences are more than the federal government alone can address."

Lawyers for the immigrants argued in court papers that allowing states to use federal documents to prosecute undocumented immigrants could lead to discriminatory treatment and an end-run around federal immigration laws. 

"Congress has comprehensively regulated the employment verification process," they wrote. "That precludes the states from doing so."

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