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A loophole for illegals: Close it now

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Monday, Jan. 25, 2010

A Supreme Court ruling on ambiguous legal language discourages prosecution of illegal aliens for identity fraud -- so Congress, which wrote that language, must revise it immediately.

Janice Kephart, director of national security studies for the Center on Immigration Studies ( ), details the problem and its solution in "Fixing Flores: Assuring Adequate Penalties for Identity Theft and Fraud." Here's the report's gist.

In Flores-Figueroa v. United States , the high court absurdly held that what's known as the Aggravated Identity Theft Statute requires prosecutors to prove not only that an identity-theft victim exists but that the defendant knew a real person's information -- not counterfeit information -- was stolen, even if obtained via a third party.

That made prosecutors' burden of proof too heavy and gave too much deference to the defendants' deniability.

Counterfeit identities don't fool high-tech checks such as E-Verify. Yet Flores discourages prosecutors from targeting illegals who steal real identities.

Closing the unintended Flores loophole for illegals requires revising the statute to refer to misuse of an identity other than the defendant's own . To help prosecutors and protect American workers, Congress must take this step -- without delay.

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