Identity theft is a serious and growing problem in Indiana and around the country, but the efforts some states have taken to tackle it have been criticized by civil rights advocates and the courts. In 2017, a Kansas court voided the convictions of three undocumented immigrants because prosecutors used information from federal forms. The court ruled that the provisions of the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 prevents states from pursuing criminal cases based on information found on certain federal immigration documents.
Kansas is one of a coalition of 11 states that are challenging the ruling, and the Supreme Court announced on March 18 that it would hear arguments in the case. Media reports suggest that President Trump, who has been critical of the ruling, urged the court to hear the case. The three undocumented individuals were convicted after prosecutors established that they had used false Social Security numbers on employment paperwork.
Attorneys representing the three men argued successfully that allowing this evidence would provide state prosecutors with a way to skirt federal immigration laws and target vulnerable communities. They said in court documents that Congress had worded the 1986 law carefully to prevent just this type of prosecutorial overreach. A Trump administration attorney sees things differently and says that legislators never intended the law to be used to create an exception for undocumented workers.
This case reveals how the language of federal immigration laws can give rise to contentious legal arguments decades after their passage. Attorneys with experience in this area may pay close attention to the outcome of this case and cases like it to ensure they they stay abreast of the latest legal developments and continue to provide their clients with accurate and up-to-date information.
Source: Reuters, “Supreme Court takes up Kansas identity theft case”, Lawrence Hurley, March 18, 2019