By Diego Graglia, FI2W web editor
Last year under the Bush Administration hundreds of immigrants rounded up at work-site raids were charged with “aggravated identity theft” for using Social Security numbers that belonged to other people.
Monday, the Supreme Court said in a unanimous decision that the federal government cannot use the charge in those cases: “the crime is limited to those who knew they had stolen another person’s Social Security number,” the Los Angeles Times reported.
In Flores-Figueroa vs. United States, the Court said the government had failed to prove that the defendant, Ignacio Flores-Figueroa, a Mexican man from Illinois, knew that his fraudulent documents belonged to another person.
Ignacio Flores-Figueroa, a citizen of Mexico, said he had bought a set of false documents in Chicago and used them to work at a steel plant in East Moline, Ill. His employer later reported him to immigration authorities. He was charged with entering the country illegally, using false documents and aggravated identity theft. Only the latter charge was at issue in the Supreme Court.
[ Los Angeles Times ]
The ruling “makes it harder for federal prosecutors to use the aggravated identity theft statute to boost prison sentences in undocumented immigrant cases,” the Christian Science Monitor said. Prosecutors would now have to prove that the defendant knew the actual numbers he or she used belonged to someone else.