WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Supreme Court on Wednesday divided Wednesday on Kansas's lawfulness prosecuting three immigrants for violation of identity theft laws by using Social Security numbers of others in a dispute about whether the state was interfering. a federal discipline on immigration policy.
PHOTO FILE: US Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., U., June 17, 2019. REUTERS / Leah Millis / Photo File
The judges heard arguments in the state's appeal of a 2017 Supreme Court ruling which annulled the convictions of the three restaurant workers and found that 1986 federal law known as the Immigration Reform and Control Act prevents such prosecutions state to follow.
The case examines how criminal state laws can be used against illegal immigrants and others who do not have a work authorization in the United States. Kansas was supported by President Donald Trump's administration in the case. Trump has focused his hard policies on immigration as an integral part of his presidency and the 2020 re-election campaign.
Four liberal judges of the court along with conservative Judge Brett Kavanaugh, a person who Trump thought, asked questions that expressed concern that the state's state involved these cases as a way of following unauthorized workers. , a role reserved for the federal government.
It appeared that other conservative judges tended to assume that state prosecutions were not related to immigration. The court has a conservative majority of 5-4.
Conservative Judge Samuel Alito suggested that the actions of the state did not undermine federal law. “What is the conflict? The federal government does not say that this is contrary to our enforcement priorities, ”said Alito.
Kansas has said that the rule of the lower court would undermine the state's ability to tackle identity theft. But immigrant rights groups said state power to prosecute employment fraud would bring them immigration policy into their own hands. Kansas is one of a number of conservative states that want to combat illegal immigrants.
The three men – Ramiro Garcia, Donaldo Morales and Guadalupe Ochoa-Lara were not allowed to work in the United States and provided Social Security numbers for their employers which were not in themselves.
A Social Security number is used primarily to identify persons for employment and tax purposes. People who enter the country illegally do not receive Social Welfare numbers, which gives a US government to every legal resident.
The case focuses on the employment verification process under federal immigration law which requires employers, on a form called the I-9, to attest that an employee is authorized to work. The law also states that the form may not be “used for purposes other than to enforce this action.”
While the federal government has the sole authority to prosecute individuals for providing fraudulent information during the employment verification process I-9, the three men were prosecuted by the state for using the same false information on various forms. used to withhold pay for tax purposes.
Kavanaugh noted that Social Security numbers are requested on both types of form.
“So basically, the states would be able to go after unauthorized employment in a rather substantial way, despite what Congress said about giving the federal government a role with employment verification,” said Kavanaugh.
Some judges asked clarity on whether states could go after other types of fraud. In response to the Liberal Justice Sonia Sotomayor, an attorney for the immigrants, said the federal law would not prosecute state in cases of identity theft over driver licenses, college applications or credit cards.
The state said in court papers that unauthorized aliens are allowed to have unfavorable status, with an exemption from a state prosecution for infringement of criminal statutes that apply to all others.
Reporting by Andrew Chung; Edited by Will Dunham
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