Daily Alert

23 February 2009

Cashing in on Obama

What bigger issue is there than immigration reform? It is on the minds of everyone, in constant debate in Congress and the subject of radio talk shows and newspaper editorials daily. Huh?

America is walking down a path to economic disaster, flushing billions of dollars down the drain in bailouts, and planning to spend dollars in amounts that most people only relate to in theory yet, in the minds of the leftie, Jewish mainstream organizations, immigration reform is THE key issue. During the past presidential election, the conservatives wanted to make immigration reform, a different immigration reform than that advocated below, an issue in the campaign however the presidential candidate was not on-board.

The leftist initiative seeks to re-design immigration enforcement policy to meet the standards of the false morality of leftism. At the heart of the effort is "to get Obama to issue an executive order or other directive to Immigration and Customs Enforcement curtailing the use of raids as a primary tool of immigration enforcement". ICE raids, far from being immoral have been highly effective in upholding the law of the land and represent an effort to at the very least establish a deterant factor against hiring illegal workers.

The first step to understanding this problem is to employ proper terminology. In the eyes of the lefties, illegal workers are "undocumented immigrants". (see Enforcement Gone Bad - NYT where the unnamed editorial decries the effort to catch "undocumented immigrants". The editorial claims that illegally entering the US and over-staying visas is not a criminal offense). Immigrants, by definition are legally in the US. Those who are not legally in the US are not "immigrants". People who have not legally entered the US or are working illegally in the US are not "immigrants" but fugitives. Given that many or most of those working illegally in the US are using phony or stolen identities of American citizens are (or should be) felons (see article at bottom).

Not only leftist non-orthodox believe that fugitives have rights. I have even heard from leftie orthodox such as Saul Berman, that fugitives should actually be considered "gerim toshvim" and should be treated with the same rights as a resident alien. As stated above, if you are working in the US illegally, (like those employees of Agriprocessors whom Berman was discussing) you are violating multiple US laws in the process. So much for Dina D'Malchusa Dina. If so, what is the value of coming to the US legally especially when you can always find a leftie orthodox Rabbi to grant you the status of ger toshav despite the fact that you may be an identity thief.

APRPEH has discussed employment/SSN identity theft before. The bottom line is that American citizens who become a victim of this sort of fraud have to deal with not only the IRS, but the SSA, as well. The consumer must pay the SSA for what is known as a detailed wage earning statement which reports which companies and businesses reported income associated with their SSN. Standard operating procedure of these federal agencies is to have the consumer contact these employers. All this means possibly weeks of contacting companies and businesses, sending documentation back and forth and months more working with the federal agencies to correct records. Often a cost of this process is a delay in income tax refunds and extended time needed for proper tax filing.

Contrast the views of the Jewish main stream leftie groups with the case headed to the US Supreme Court in the second article below. The fugitive named in this case had been using phony identification to work and then purchased the identity of an American citizen. He was turned in to authorities under suspicion by his employer when he changed his personal identifying information that was on file with his HR department. The case hinges on whether the fugitive should have been charged with a higher crime of identity theft which carries a two year incarceration sentence or lesser charges. The fugitive claims he didn't know that the ID belonged to someone.

The other side of the argument is claiming it does not matter what the fugitive knew. The truth of course is that the fugitive knew he was illegally residing in and illegally working in the US. Indeed he was charged correctly as were the Agriprocessor employees referred to in the article. America must uphold the right to work for American citizen laws that are on the books. No intervening false sense of morality that blames ICE raids, labels as immoral the ID theft laws used as leverage for convictions should be granted legitimacy. American citizens, taxpayers, have rights too, to not be victimized - which might come as a shock to those advocating making it easier for more fugitive entry and illegals to work in the US. A little sympathy to the victims of crime would be nice from the lefties. What did we used to call it? Soft on crime? What the lefties call immoral is called by right thinking people - effective law enforcement.

Jews stepping up efforts for immigration reform - JTA, Friday February 20, 2009
by Eric Fingerhut - JTA

Washington | It was the forgotten issue of the general election campaign, with the two U.S. presidential candidates barely mentioning it last fall. And with so much focus on the economy, it seems to have receded even more into the background.

But Jewish groups aren’t letting that stop them from making a big push for comprehensive immigration reform.

Several major Jewish organizations recently signed on to two new initiatives: a Jewish campaign aiming for “Progress by Pesach” on the immigration issue and the larger Interfaith Immigration Coalition working for the enactment of “humane and equitable” reform by the end of this year.

While Jewish groups are urging President Barack Obama and Congress to take action, they are focusing much of their attention on education and advocacy efforts in local communities, hoping to see pressure bubble up to Washington.

Melanie Nezer, senior director for U.S. programs and advocacy at the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, said the key to success in immigration reform is for local activists to let their representatives know how important it is — and that’s already starting.

“In the last year we’ve really started hearing from local communities that this is something that needed to be done,” Nezer said. “We really have the grass roots pushing a lot of this.”

In particular, she said, the impact of immigration raids on local communities — such as the one last year on the Agriprocessors kosher meat plant in Postville, Iowa, which resulted in hundreds of arrests — have demonstrated the “fallout” from problematic immigration policies “in a very direct way.”

Postville-like raids are a prime motivator of the Progress by Pesach initiative, in which groups including HIAS, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, the Anti-Defamation League, the American Jewish Committee, the National Council of Jewish Women, the Reform and Reconstructionist movements and the Conservative movement’s Rabbinical Assembly have joined with a multitude of local organizations. Among their goals is to get Obama to issue an executive order or other directive to Immigration and Customs Enforcement curtailing the use of raids as a primary tool of immigration enforcement.

The organizations are aiming to collect 10,000 signatures by April 8, the first night of Passover, for a petition encouraging “humanitarian immigration reform” and decrying the “policy of relying on raids and enforcement tactics as the sole means of controlling immigration.” Visitors to the group’s Web site (www.hias.org/progress) also can send a letter to the president and members of Congress that contains similar language.

Coalition members argue that in addition to denying equal protection to those detained and splitting up families through jailing and deportations, the immigration raids also are expensive for the government and seriously impede businesses in a poor economy.

Many of the same national organizations, along with others, including United Jewish Communities and B’nai B’rith International, are part of the Interfaith Immigration Coalition.

The coalition’s platform in favor of “humane and equitable” immigration reform by the end of 2009 includes upholding family unity as a priority, creating a process for undocumented immigrants to earn legal status and eventual citizenship, restoring due process protections, reforming detention policies, and aligning the enforcement of immigration laws with humanitarian values.

“Throughout history, the Jewish community has been the quintessential immigrant community, often forced to flee from land to land to land,” said the director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, Rabbi David Saperstein. “Having struggled to adjust to societies that did not welcome our arrival, we understand many of the challenges faced by today’s immigrants.”

Supreme Court hears immigrant's ID theft case 2/22/2009, 8:19 a.m. EST By MARK SHERMAN
The Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) — Ignacio Carlos Flores-Figueroa, an undocumented worker from Mexico, made a curious and undeniably bad decision. After working under an assumed name for six years, he decided to use his real name and exchanged one set of phony identification numbers for another.

The change made his employer suspicious and the authorities were called in. The old numbers were made up, but the new ones he bought happened to belong to real people. Federal prosecutors said that was enough to label Flores-Figueroa an identity thief.

The Supreme Court will hear arguments Wednesday on prosecutors' aggressive use of a new law that was intended to strengthen efforts to combat identity theft. In at least hundreds of cases last year, workers accused of immigration violations found themselves facing the more serious identity theft charge as well, without any indication they knew their counterfeit Social Security and other identification numbers belonged to actual people and were not made up.

The government has used the charge, which carries a mandatory two-year minimum prison term, to persuade people to plead guilty to the lesser immigration charges and accept prompt deportation. Many of those undocumented workers had been arrested in immigration raids.

The case hinges on how the justices resolve this question: Does it matter whether someone using a phony ID knows that it belongs to someone else?

The government, backed by victims' rights groups, says no. The "havoc wrecked on the victim's life is the same either way," said Stephen Masterson, a Los Angeles-based lawyer, in his brief for the victims' rights groups.

On the other side, Flores-Figueroa and more than 20 immigrants' rights groups, defense lawyers and privacy experts say that the law Congress passed in 2004 was aimed at the identity thief who gains access to people's private information to drain their accounts and run up bills in their name. Surveys estimate that more than 8 million people in the United States are victims of identity theft each year.

Flores-Figueroa acknowledges he used fraudulent documents to get and keep his job at a steel plant in East Moline, Ill. But he "had no intention of stealing anyone's identity," his lawyers said in their brief to the court. He traveled to Chicago and bought numbers from someone who trades in counterfeit IDs.

Had he been caught while using the fictitious name and numbers that went with it, he could not have been charged with the more serious offense.

Federal appeals courts in St. Louis, which ruled against Flores-Figueroa, Atlanta and Richmond, Va., have come down on the government's side. Appeals courts based in Boston, San Francisco and Washington, D.C., have ruled for defendants.

The government's use of identity theft charges in immigration cases was on full display in last year's raid on a kosher slaughterhouse in Postville, Iowa. Authorities charged 270 undocumented workers with identity theft, including its threat of two years in prison.

Chuck Roth, litigation director for the National Immigrant Justice Center in Chicago, called the charge "a bludgeon" that was intended to elicit guilty pleas to lesser charges. Roth's group joined one of the briefs supporting Flores-Figueroa.

All 270 workers accepted plea deals in which they also agreed not to contest deportation.

An additional 100 workers arrested in the same raid were using unassigned numbers and faced charges with little prospect of prison time.

The case is Flores-Figueroa v. U.S., 08-108.

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