October 10, 2007

Judge Bars Government From Discovering Social Security Fraud

It's hard to imagine what Judge Charles R. Breyer had in mind when he issued a ruling that prevents the government from detecting identity fraud, but clearly it wasn't the law or the interests of the American community. The federal judge in Northern California issued an injunction against the issuance of "no-match" letters that inform employers of potential fraudulent employees, halting enforcement of employer sanctions for hiring illegal workers:

A federal judge barred the Bush administration today from launching a planned crackdown on U.S. firms that hire illegal immigrants, warning of the plan's potentially "staggering" impact on law-abiding workers and companies.

Issuing a firm rebuke of the White House, U.S. District Judge Charles R. Breyer of San Francisco granted a preliminary injunction against the government's plan to pressure employers to fire up to 8.7 million workers with suspect Social Security numbers starting this fall. ...

Breyer said the plaintiffs, an unusual coalition that included the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the AFL-CIO and the American Civil Liberties Union, had raised such serious questions about the plan to mail Social Security "no-match" letters to 140,000 U.S. employers that it should be blocked from proceeding.

"There can be no doubt that the effects of the rule's implementation will be severe," Breyer wrote, resulting in "irreparable harm to innocent workers and employers."

The government letters were intended to warn employers that they must resolve questions about their employees' identities or fire them within 90 days. If they did not, employers could face "stiff penalties," including fines and even criminal prosecutions for violating a federal law that bars knowingly employing illegal workers, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said in announcing the plan Aug. 10.

So let's get this straight. Employers have a requirement to get Social Security information so that they can verify employment eligibility. When they attempt to verify the employee and the Social Security administration determines that the number is invalid, what is the government going to do? Ignore it, even though it's really identity fraud?

If the government insists on setting up SSNs as employment requirements, then the government has to protect the integrity of their use. If someone steals my SSN in order to defraud an employer, they will eventually use it to establish credit and damage my economic standing. At the least, it renders the entire system suspect. The government has a legal obligation to protect people that they force into this database.

Interestingly, Breyer based his ruling at least in part on the Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980, which forbids agency enforcement of law without careful consideration of the cost to small businesses. That act makes good sense when discussing issues that don't intrude on national sovereignty, national security, and fraud. The requirement for employers to provide reverification within 90 days of finding out that an employee either made a mistake or lied about their SSN does not seem overly burdensome, and the nation and its people have what should be an overwhelming interest in border enforcement and protection against identity theft. Most people would understand this, but apparently not Breyer nor the Chamber of Commerce, which joined in the challenge to the process.

I'd expect the appellate court to overrule this, but we're talking about the 9th Circuit. We'll have to wait for this to go to the Supreme Court for any reversal.


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Comments (54)

Posted by Del Dolemonte | October 10, 2007 5:49 PM

Breyer, Charles R.
Born 1941 in San Francisco, CA

Federal Judicial Service:
Judge, U. S. District Court, Northern District of California

Nominated by William J. Clinton on July 24, 1997, to a seat vacated by D. Lowell Jensen; Confirmed by the Senate on November 8, 1997, and received commission on November 12, 1997.

Harvard College, A.B., 1963

University of California, Berkeley, Boalt Hall School of Law, J.D., 1966

Assistant special prosecutor, Watergate Special Prosecution Force, 1973-1974

Posted by Dale in Atlanta | October 10, 2007 5:55 PM

That's what happens when you let Anti-American Socialist Liberals (i.e. "Democrats") into positions of power.

I agree; but the Supreme Court (thanks to Alito and Rogers) WILl take care of this!

Posted by Mark1971 | October 10, 2007 5:58 PM

This is why you can't do comprehensive reform. The amnesty will go right on while the enforcement measures are held up in court by suits from labor unions and big business.

Posted by GarandFan | October 10, 2007 6:00 PM

Let's see. If I'm an employer and hire someone, I have to eventually send MONEY to the GOVERNMENT for that particular employee's SSAN account. If the Gov't tells me the number is no good, does that mean I can just forget about sending the MONEY in?

Breyer is an ass!

Posted by docjim505 | October 10, 2007 6:05 PM

It just jumps out at me:

The federal judge in Northern California issued an injunction...

Breyer said the plaintiffs, an unusual coalition that included the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the AFL-CIO and the American Civil Liberties Union... [i.e. Big Business that wants cheap labor, Big Labor that wants more dues-paying members, and Big Pain in the Ass that just wants to cause trouble]

Thanks to Del Dolemonte:

Nominated by William J. Clinton...

University of California, Berkeley, Boalt Hall School of Law, J.D., 1966

Dale in Atlanta hits the nail on the head:

That's what happens when you let Anti-American Socialist Liberals (i.e. "Democrats") into positions of power.

Amen, Brother! AMEN!

Posted by flenser | October 10, 2007 6:06 PM

Interestingly, Breyer based his ruling at least in part on the Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980, which forbids agency enforcement of law without careful consideration of the cost to small businesses.

Don't worry, I'm sure he'll strike down Hillary Care on the same grounds. Heh.

If a judge wants someting to be the law, thats the law. The pretense that we are in any sense a self-governing republic is not even faked any more.

Breyer said the plaintiffs, an unusual coalition that included the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the AFL-CIO and the American Civil Liberties Union

Those Chamber of Crooks "businessmen" spend a lot of time complaining that they don't know who is illegal, but they sue the government when it tries to get them to fire workers who they KNOW are felons.

Submitting a false SSN is a felony punishable by five years in jail and a quarter million dollar fine.

Which makes you wonder - why is the government willing to let them off with simply being fired, which is all this legislation would have done before Emperor Breyer deemed even that to be too cruel?

Posted by Mark1971 | October 10, 2007 6:07 PM

This judge is Stephen Breyer's brother. I wonder if Stephen Breyer would recuse himself if a case that came through his brother's courtroom eventually gets to SCOTUS.

Posted by daytrader | October 10, 2007 6:33 PM

Actually the article is slightly fact challenged.

The no match letters have gone out all along since they were first required.

The just get put in a file cabinet and ignored.

It is clear and primary indicator of identity theft.

The enforcement requirements are not new, they are now just attempted to being enforced.

It happens all the time.

I myself can personally speak to the issue.

I am retired and there is an ongoing investigation with the Social Security system because they are wondering why I am retired yet still actively working in the States of Florida, New York, Ohio , Texas and California ALL AT THE SAME TIME!!!!

Also I am working as a roofer and electrician, a veterinarians assistant, a timeshare salesperson and a commercial fisherman.

All new occupations I have learned since my retirement.

Who says you can't teach an old dog new tricks.

Posted by BB | October 10, 2007 6:37 PM

Uh, so, if there is an honest error, and the employee is a citizen with a valid SSAN, wouldn't this judge's idiocy prevent that employee from being properly credited for his wages in the great ponzi scheme known as Social Security?

Protect the illegals. Screw the citizens. Sounds like a Democratic appointment to me.

Posted by Keemo | October 10, 2007 6:45 PM

WOW.... This is exactly why we can't afford another Clinton Presidency. Key Supreme Court seats are coming down the shoot. The Liberalization of America by way of Liberal Judges. Around the people and into the law books, a Liberalizing we will go; ho ho...

Posted by TomB | October 10, 2007 7:01 PM

I don't know what Judge Breyer was smoking, but I want the same stuff...

Posted by Uncle Jefe | October 10, 2007 7:22 PM

An absolute friggin' joke.
For this year's grape harvest here in Sonoma County, at our winery, we put 70 people through physicals/drug screenings and background checks, and social security checks. We can't do the Social Security check first, and therefore have to spend all of the money on the rest of the process, before finding out that over 10% didn't qualify anyway because of bad Soc Sec #'s. And we can't report them. And of the ones that DID pass the Soc Sec check, I'm still not convinced that all of them were legit. It only screens out ones that didn't match up...if the check is inconclusive or doesn't raise any flags, they're good to go. I've seen people get rejected for a bad Soc Sec # in the morning, and come back in the afternoon with a different name and number, and pass.
Friggin' joke.

Posted by flenser | October 10, 2007 7:26 PM

Uncle Jefe

Any idea why the Chamber of Crooks is so determined to protect illegals?

Posted by Pam | October 10, 2007 7:29 PM

Uh, it's Northern California. That explains it all. They are idiots here - ok, most all of them.

Posted by BoWowBoy | October 10, 2007 7:47 PM

Beam me up Scotty .............

I guess we need to ratchet up the protest. Join your local day labor watch group and border watch group. Press your local politicians to start pressing trespassing laws and other local ordinances to roust the illegal aliens.

Posted by sherlock | October 10, 2007 8:04 PM

"...and the nation and its people have what should be an overwhelming interest..."

No, no, no - any Clinton-appointee will know in his heart that such interests should be trumped by the interests of terrorists, or illegals, or other nations, as long as they are not allied nations fighting alongside us.

Try to keep up, please.

p.s. Heard on NPR this morning a lovingly long interview with several Iowans who just "miss Bill so much, especially when we travel in Europe". Well, now I have "modified" another clock radio so it will never utter another NPR-hearts-DNC puff piece. Okay, or any other sound.

Posted by PETN Sandwich | October 10, 2007 8:10 PM

And the local township constable will ream out the quickie-mart owner if he sells beer to a youngster with fake ID for not being able to distinguish know what a real ID looks like.

Posted by daytrader | October 10, 2007 8:12 PM

Great read of how wacko some states run their end of the SCHIP program

I just phoned California’s SCHIP program, Healthy Families, and found that my family could qualify.

This is the scenario I laid out:
· Husband, age 62 (which I’ll be in 2-years), collecting early Social Security; Wife, age 41;
· Two minor dependent children, ages 2 and 7;
· Currently covered under self-paid individual health insurance (incidentally, costing about $10,000 a year, HMO, with $35 doctor visits and 30% co-insurance payments for other services, formulary Rx’s $20 generic and $35 brand);
· Mutual fund capital gains of $50,000 and ordinary dividends of $30,000;
· Earned income of $2289 a month by wife at job without medical benefits. (My wife is not currently working, being a house-mom.)

Thus, even though having substantial liquid assets, saved through a lifetime of scrimping in order to fund retirement, I would qualify for California’s Healthy Families SCHIP program. Assets and unearned income (e.g., Social Security, capital gains, ordinary dividends) do not count against SCHIP qualification.


Posted by Elais | October 10, 2007 9:01 PM

I thought Republicans/conservatives sucked Big Business dick? Why go after one of the GOP's main supporters?

Posted by Del Dolemonte | October 10, 2007 9:11 PM

BTW, the only reason I mentioned this part:

Assistant special prosecutor, Watergate Special Prosecution Force, 1973-1974

was because it establishes Breyer's bona fides as a Hillary compadre dating back to those days, as she was on the same team.

For all we know, she could nominate this nimrod to SCOTUS without a blink as First Pain in the Ass.

Posted by Bob Mc | October 10, 2007 9:49 PM


It's time to file an amended tax return for those years in which you inadvertently did not file a complete return.

Given that your employers failed to provide you with a proper W-2 or 1099-MISC, you can file form 4852. The info you'll need to amend your prior year returns can be obtained from the SSA after Sept 30 of the following year.

If your refund is bigger by doing this, yeehaw. If not, push the fraud angle.

Fortunately, I haven't been cloned yet.

Posted by Werner Patels (THE SPADE) | October 10, 2007 10:10 PM

I don't get it: what's so wrong with simply enforcing the law? Working illegally is still against the law, and sure, you can let things slide, if a decision has been made to enforce the law, then it's not up to a judge to decide that the law "ain't good".

Posted by brooklyn - hnav | October 10, 2007 10:11 PM

"Nominated by William J. Clinton on July 24, 1997"

Thanks Del Dolemonte...

What complete folly.

And some think it is going to help, NOT voting to rebuke the Democrats in 2008.

Some Conservatives are downright stubborn, and self destructive.

This is just another example of why we have to get the GOP Majority back, Presidency and all.

Enough of this garbage...

Posted by Scrapiron | October 10, 2007 10:16 PM

Daytrader, refile for SS benefits. Your benefits should be $50-60K per year. Add the wife and kids and you'll have a six figure income without leaving the house, other than to go to the golf course. And the judge's in this country wonder why everyone ignores or laughs at them. They are truly a bunch of clowns. Ninth circus, more clowns, will uphold his ruling.

Posted by hunter | October 10, 2007 10:16 PM

We can all look forward to 8 years or maybe a Chavez-style President for life and lots and lots of judges just like this or even more corrupt than this if we let the ego of Dr. Dobson talk Christians into helping Hillary.

Posted by Rose | October 10, 2007 11:30 PM

Unless he intends to order the IRS to press felony charges against the illegal aliens directly, the people of that district should immediately remove such a "judge" - who clearly has no comprehension of his Constitutional duties to provide Justice for his jurisdiction.

He should be disbarred, removed, and charged with some felonies, for blocking the apprehension of criminal activity HE WOULD NEVER TOLERATE FROM AMERICAN CITIZENS TO BE GIVING FALSE SS #'S TO THEIR EMPLOYERS, and to be allowing AMERICAN CITIZENS to be turning in MULTIPLE SS #'s to get multiple SS RETIREMENT CHECKS.

IF AMERICAN CITIZENS were dealing in FORGED DOCUMENTS, we wouldn't have any judges BLOCKING the investigation of our perfidy!

Posted by Rose | October 10, 2007 11:36 PM

Posted by Del Dolemonte | October 10, 2007 9:11 PM

BTW, the only reason I mentioned this part:

Assistant special prosecutor, Watergate Special Prosecution Force, 1973-1974

was because it establishes Breyer's bona fides as a Hillary compadre dating back to those days, as she was on the same team.

For all we know, she could nominate this nimrod to SCOTUS without a blink as First Pain in the Ass.


SO WOULD FRED! HE was a Watergate Prosecutor, too. And he has stated he is the unifying candidate. As a former prosecutor who voted NOT GUILTY for Clinton's PERJURY, and still considers that PERJURY to be a "TRIVIAL MATTER", we know he doesn't mean "unifying the components of the GOP BASE"

Posted by Rose | October 10, 2007 11:48 PM

Some Conservatives are downright stubborn, and self destructive.

This is just another example of why we have to get the GOP Majority back, Presidency and all.

Enough of this garbage...



Read Maggie Gallagher's latest column at Town Hall, regarding Rudi and his promises to govern Right of Hillary. SHE doesn't believe him, either!

The GOP is so proud of Zell Miller when he stated that HE HAD NOT CHANGED, but the DIMS have gone off and LEFT him.

But when we tell the GOP the same thing, WE ARE VILIFIED!

TODAY the NEWS held a story of a man getting one of the flags that has flown over the capital for his WAR VETERAN FATHER including in the certificate the words, in honor of his service, his family, his nation, and his God - and the ARCHITECT REWROTE THE CERTIFICATE AND SAID THAT "GOD" IS BANNED FROM THE FLAG CERTIFICATES, and NANCY PELOSI BACKS HIM "BECAUSE IT IS THE LAW" - A VERY VERY NEW LAW according to Newt Gingrich.

The request made was STANDARD FAIR throughout the history of citizens acquiring these flags for memorials and tributes. ONLY THIS NEW ARCHITECT has levied such a "law" and several (R) Reps are fighting it, since it violates our historical traditions up to the last year.


Why did we have to wait until one man stood up and revolted about it, before we heard from any of the GOP?????????????

Posted by Rose | October 10, 2007 11:59 PM

Posted by hunter | October 10, 2007 10:16 PM

We can all look forward to 8 years or maybe a Chavez-style President for life and lots and lots of judges just like this or even more corrupt than this if we let the ego of Dr. Dobson talk Christians into helping Hillary.


We'll still have a Chavez like Cretan for President if the GOP uses Hillary as an excuse to shove a RINO WHO IS A DIM ENABLER down our throats on an Arnold Schwartzeneggar-style campaign plan of insisting on electing such a DIM ENABLER because "he is the most electable", even if he'd do EXACTLY THE SAME THINGS in office as a DIM, regarding moving us towards a SOCIALIZED STATE FURTHER LEFT THAN WE #EVER DREAMED just 20 years ago this nation could go!

So if you want to keep the BASE on the Reservation, don't go voting for a Nominee you know will drive the base out like the DIMS drove out Zell Miller, like the GOP did with Gerald Ford and Robert Dole.

LOTS of folks are not convinced these RINOS will govern as Right as they campaign - and we've seen that too many times before - IT IS REALISTIC.

I'm not voting Left of George Bush, Jr.

PERIOD. It's as simple as that.

My joining you to vote approbation for a LEFTIE won't make the disaster that RINO creates any more palatable, than if I refuse to stand before My Maker with THAT ugly scab on my concience.

All these RINOS (Huckabee included) have already demonstrated in times of great national or state crisis exactly what they will do - THEY ALREADY DID IT - and now claim they'd do something else in the Oval Office because WE THE PEOPLE SAY SO?????????????

We said so when they did their previous Leftie DIM ENABLING stunts! And they did it anyway!

Posted by Rose | October 11, 2007 12:04 AM

Posted by Elais | October 10, 2007 9:01 PM

Please, cannot adults convey a thought without getting filthy in their graphic language?

I know I use some harsh #$%#%*& myself, sometimes, but painting images in the minds of others mid-POLITICAL discussion is rather filthy and gross, don't you think?

Can't you find a way to express yourself more creatively than some guttersnipe?

Posted by Rose | October 11, 2007 12:08 AM

I've seen people get rejected for a bad Soc Sec # in the morning, and come back in the afternoon with a different name and number, and pass.
Friggin' joke.

I've seen them tell my dad he is really stupid for not having 20 of them because who can live on one of the checks? some of them claimed lots of Mexico citizens (30 yrs ago) were already living on the proceeds of having put in the requirements on 20 different numbers and then retired in a community where that allowed them to live like kings. They said Americans are stupid for not taking advantage of their own system, the same way.

If they thought we were stupid 30 yrs ago, what do they think of us, NOW!

Posted by Glenn M. Cassel, AMH1(AW), USN, RET | October 11, 2007 2:06 AM

Rope + Tree + Liberal Activist Judge.Some assembly required. Sorry Rottweiler.
The charge is TREASON

Posted by Hugh Beaumont | October 11, 2007 3:52 AM

So can someone tell me, beyond taxes, what's the point of citizenship?

If the goobermint won't be permitted to rationally enforce it's immigration law, what's the point of immigration law or immigration status for that matter?

Are these silly questions or am I reading too much into this judgement?

Posted by Jazz | October 11, 2007 4:37 AM

Actually, Daytrader's situation (where his social security number is being used in three different states in various occupations) serves as a cautionary tale about this program, assuming you stop to think it through. From the article:

The ... database includes so many errors -- incorporated in the records of about 9.5 million people in 2003 alone -- that its use in firings would unfairly discriminate against tens of thousands of legal workers, including native-born and naturalized U.S. citizens

More than 70% of SSA discrepancies refer to U.S. citizens.

A three-year government audit ending in 2001 found "widespread" misuse of Social Security numbers by illegal immigrants, who often present fake or fraudulent documents to obtain jobs. Overall, 7.2 million illegal immigrants account for at least 10 percent of low-skilled U.S. workers and 5 percent of the total U.S. workforce

Between June 2004 and May 2006, it erroneously rejected 11 percent of foreign-born U.S. citizens and 1.3 percent of authorized foreign-born noncitizens, according to a report provided to Congress.

Now, let's take daytrader's case as an example. At this time, he is retired. But what if he weren't? What if he were employed full time, needing that income to continue his "lifetime of scrimping and saving" to get ready for retirement? (By now you can hopefully see how this could apply to any of us.)

Next week, daytrader's employer gets a letter in the mail stating that his social security number is "in question" because it has popped up multiple times. Now, daytrader knows damned well he's not an illegal. His employer knows it damned well also, as he's been working there most of his life. But said employer still has this letter in their hands saying they will be facing stiff fines and possible criminal prosecution if daytrader is not fired in the next 90 days.

Sure, daytrader and/or the employer can appeal this. They can file the required papers to get the confusion cleared up. But, as the article notes, the beurocracy currently takes up to nine months to clear these things up. How long it will take when the system is suddenly glutted with 11 million appeals takes the estimate out to somewhere around the apocolypse. And in the meantime, daytrader's employer is sitting there having to fight the order, which will undoubtedly involve lawyers and time spent in court, answering letters, etc.

Daytrader just became one very expensive employee. And those types of employees generally have one fate, sooner or later - a teary eyed party with gifts and cake, but... buh-bye daytrader.

Before the usual list of subjects starts in with the standard "libtard, dhimi... blah blah", my point is not that such a system of checks and removal of illegals isn't needed. I fully agree that it is, though it's hardly the biggest problem on this issue to address. My problem is with the victims of identity theft (many, many of whom probably don't even know they are victims if the illegal isn't using the SS# to run up credit card bills, etc.) who will suddenly come in to work to find that their unknown second careers as roofers and farmers in Florida and California are about to get them fired, and the system will be unable to respond to their distress calls in a timely enough fashion to prevent it.

I think this will be a time consuming process. Before something like this can be sanely launched, I personally think we need to fight for mandatory national ID cards and a hard card system for everyone to be able to properly identify themselves and associate that identity with a valid social security number. If that was in place, then a program like this would certainly be feasible. And yes, I know any card can be faked eventually, but the basic process of documenting every legal worker and citizen initially will make the task of clearing up duplicates and identifying fakes far, far easier. And a large, comprehensive database containing all of this starting point information will make the process possible. However it will take a lot of commitment on the part of congress and a lot of money for improvements to our computer systems and the infrastructure of the beurocracy so that such tracking is possible. It's a huge task, but if we can get the majority of voters to agree on the need for it, it could be managed.

As things stand now, however, I'm afraid I can see the point of the judge and the plaintiffs here. The potential for an avalanche of disruptive and even destructive action falling out from this is staggering indeed.

If we want some short term action to take, I would far prefer that Congress get together and eliminate some of this "free trade" BS loopholes that continue to allow some of our best paying, high tech jobs to be shipped over to India, while computer programmers and similar highly skilled workers suddenly find themselves working two jobs at Barnes and Nobles and the strip mall coffee shop. That could be done TODAY.

Posted by docjim505 | October 11, 2007 6:45 AM


A well-written and thoughtful post. Perhaps Breyer isn't quite the liberal idiot that he appears to be.

However, it seems to me that there are a couple of problems with this:

1. The "potentially 'staggering' impact on law-abiding workers and companies" is exactly that: POTENTIAL. I suppose that one could spin all sorts of "potential" ill effects from almost any law ("If we pass a law making murder a crime, we could potentially arrest, try, and imprison innocent people!"). However, it seems to me that evaluating what effects a law MIGHT have is not a judge's job: his only job is to say what the law IS. Unless somebody can demonstrate that the law requiring the feds to send out their warning letters and otherwise start enforcing laws against SSN fraud somehow conflicts with another, higher law (such as the Constitution), then Breyer is guilty of judicial overreach.

2. The job of determining whether or not a law will have "staggering impact" on people is NOT that of the judiciary. If the Congress has written bad law (not that it EVER happens; /sarcasm), then it is the job of the Congress to fix it, not the job of some judge to nullify it. Mr. Justice Holmes is cited as saying:

"This is a court of law, young man, not a court of justice."

In other words, the role of a judge is NOT to do what is "right" (which is subjective), but rather to do what is "legal" (which is, ideally, objective).

3. This sort of judicial meddling has the effect of letting the Congress (and the president, for that matter) off the hook. They can write / sign the sloppiest law imaginable, safe in the knowledge that the judiciary will protect them from their own laziness and stupidity. Perhaps if the Congress started getting deluged with complaints from businessmen who have to spend staggering amounts of time and money vetting their employees and from citizens who've lost their jobs because somebody stole their identity, the Congress might be a bit more careful when they rewrite the law.

Posted by MarkD | October 11, 2007 7:33 AM

There are far too few judicial impeachments. A Congress doing its job would separate these people from the bench.

Posted by hunter | October 11, 2007 7:36 AM

You remind me of the folks who, if they looked at Reagan's real record, would find him too lefty.

Posted by Jazz | October 11, 2007 7:36 AM


There's very little in your reponse that I could find fault with. And just to be clear, yet again, let me say that I have no qualms with the intent of this law. I see it as highly beneficial from a number of perspectives. Obviously weeding out illegals perpetraing identity fraud to take jobs is highly desirable. It should also help to identify and assist people whose identities are being fraudulently assumed.

However, the role of the judiciary in this doesn't seem to be quite as clearly set here. (Note: I'm not a lawyer - nor do I play one on TV - so wiser legal heads may need to help out on this.) But it seems to me that the original action was brought by the plaintiffs in this case. Obviously their motives are highly suspect, but the point is that I believe laws are often challenged by persons potentially (the word "potential" here going to one of your chief points) affected, and judges do regularly place an injunction against the enforcement of that law while the the play is under review. (Just to stick in a football analogy.)

To put it another way, it seems that the judge in this case is not declaring the law to be good or bad, but is rather holding up the implementation until the plaintiff's objections can be reviewed.

I agree that it is the reponsibility of the legislative branch to make sure they pass clean legislation, not the judiciary. In this case I'm not even sure if the law itself is "sloppy" as such, just that it might be unrealistic due to logistical considerations. There are any number of laws we might like to pass which would be excellent in intent and beneficial to us, but might be virtually impossible to enforce, or at least to do so without causing other issues to arise.

I certainly believe there is some ill intent involved here (or at least selfish motives on the part of some of the plaintiffs who see a threat to the illegal status quo they normally operate under) but a side result of their objections might be bringing to light a valid concern.

Again, this situation really should provide a wake up call to Congress and to voters that we need to get serious about a sound national ID card system. As I said, I'm not in any way claiming that it would be quick, easy or cheap. But if accomplished, I think the door is then open to other, follow-up options such as this program which would bring additional benefits, security, and fairness to legal workers who are employed in this country who follow all the rules.

Posted by big g | October 11, 2007 7:39 AM


THE PROBLEM AS I SEE IT IS THAT PRESENTLY, THERE IS NO CONTROLLING LEGAL AUTHORITY for social security number abuse. The employers can't report the fraud to anyone. SS instructs you (if your SSN is stolen) to inform the FTC about SSN related identity theft:

Identity Theft
The use of your Social Security number by someone else to obtain credit, loans, telephone accounts, or other goods and services should be reported to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The FTC collects complaints about identity theft from those whose identities have been stolen. Although the FTC does not have the authority to bring criminal cases, the FTC can help victims of identity theft by providing information to assist them in resolving the financial and other problems that can result from this crime. The FTC puts your information into a secure consumer fraud database and may, in appropriate instances, share it with other law enforcement agencies and private entities, including any companies about which you may complain. You can reach the FTC directly by:

Calling toll-free at 1-877-IDTHEFT (1-877-438-4338).
The FTC can also be reached at its website at http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/microsites/idtheft/.
The Social Security Administration cannot fix your credit record if someone has misused your Social Security number (SSN) to obtain credit. To resolve your credit problems, you need to contact the institution that authorized the credit and/or issued the credit card, as well as the major credit reporting agencies. Obtain a copy of your credit report and ask that an alert be placed on your credit record requiring that you be contacted before credit is extended using your name and SSN. The three major credit reporting agencies are

Equifax — 1-800-525-6285
Trans Union — 1-800-680-7289
Experian — 1-888-397-3742
Work with each credit bureau, creditor, employer and government agency involved to remove inaccurate information from your records. You should continue checking your credit report annually for inaccuracies. Keep copies of your correspondence, records of your telephone calls and other documents verifying your efforts to correct the problem.

The Federal government and numerous states have passed laws prohibiting identity theft. Anyone who intentionally uses the Social Security number of another person to establish a new identity or defraud the government is breaking the law.

To get more information about the Social Security numbers and identity theft, download the following publications and/or visit the following websites.

FTC Information

Identity Theft, Privacy & Security (04/07)
Social Security Information
Identity Theft And Your Social Security Number (05-10064)
New Rules For Getting A Social Security Number And Card (05-10120)
Your Social Security Number and Card (05-10002)

Posted by syn | October 11, 2007 8:00 AM

Just for upholding law and order plus defending borders during a time of war how soon will it be before we hear 'oh those extremists on the right they're so ugly and will lose the GOP!'

It is getting to the point that even protecting one's own identity is somehow nasty rhetoric which cannot be defended because it hurts the pious do-gooder's feelings.

Posted by syn | October 11, 2007 8:07 AM

Actually Hunter if all the good people adhering to God's words would stop electing pro-choice candidates just so they can to receive the gold coins of entitlement goodies then Dobson wouldn't be in politics.

The Church needs to come to some sort of agreement as to 'what is God's Ethical Codes' before preaching about the evils of politicians.

Posted by Les Nessman | October 11, 2007 8:39 AM

This all just shows why we need to iron out and implement the border security and enforcement provisions of any Immigration Reform BEFORE any 'amnesty' or 'path to citizenship' provisions are enacted.

Otherwise, the usual activist Judiciary will kill the enforcement part and let the 'amnesty' part continue.

Posted by eaglewings | October 11, 2007 8:47 AM

Shocking and disgraceful decision by leftwing California judge. What we expected when he issued Temporary Restraining Order. For those conservatives who sat out the last election, to teach us a lesson, well now you've been served.

Posted by mvfreeman | October 11, 2007 10:05 AM

A few years ago I was told by the IRS that I coudn't submit my tax return electronically because my wife's SS# came up on someone elses return as a dependent. Had to send them copies of the previous five years returns to show she was not anyones dependent. Their reply only mentioned that I had provided sufficient documentation but absolutely nothing about SS or identity fraud committed against my wife.

Posted by Bikerken | October 11, 2007 10:10 AM

I wonder when we are going to wake up to the real disaster this situation will create. This is what happens when we come to grips with attempting to ‘document the undocumented’. Eventually we are going to figure out that it is impossible. How can you possibly have someone walk into an office, and give them a legal legitimate identification based on nothing but what they say? I could write books on how much a system like that could be abused, not only by illegal aliens, but criminal citizens. It used to be that we arrested bums in this country for being transients if they didn’t have a legal ID. It was a requirement because we knew that it was dangerous to have people running around without being identifiable. Police wouldn’t know if there was an arrest warrant on someone if they gave a false name. Lets be honest about something, if you want to live a criminal lifestyle, it is a great advantage to not be easily identified. It enables you to avoid and cheat the system. So we have allowed millions of poor people from a country that is completely anarchic and corrupt to come here to a country with a ridiculously generous welfare program and mix among us thinking that they are going to live by the rules, they just don’t have a legal ID, and they just want to make a better life for themselves. Brilliant.

If the average criminal could counterfeit ATM cards quickly and easily, what would happen to our ATMs? Answer, they would be shut down tomorrow. Nobody is going to allow cash to be dispensed when the percentage of theft reaches a certain point because the system is no longer tenable. The exact thing can happen with Social Security. If we allow it to become such a mess with stolen SSN’s and no accountability that it becomes virtually impossible for the SSA keep up with confirming identities, the system will eventually collapse. Personally, I wonder if this isn’t exactly what this administration wants. It would give them every justification to scrap the system altogether and start something else.

Now let me get to this judge, the disagreement I have with him, other than the obvious that he’s wrong on the law, is the fact that he is buying into the ‘kick the can down the road’ thinking. He thinks dealing with the problem would just be too traumatic so we’ll try to just keep things going the way they are. Ever see, “War of the Roses”? There is a growing attitude in this country that we can keep things together without actually dealing with this problem by putting a couple of band-aids on it. You cannot legalize illegality. It will come back and bite you in the ass like you never dreamed. We have been slowly but surely indoctrinated into thinking that the laws are, “more like guidelines”. People, this is exactly why most third world countries are third world countries. Why are we allowing this to happen here?

Posted by unclesmrgol | October 11, 2007 10:45 AM


Your story is on the extreme end of standard. A friend of mine just had his 2005 taxes audited by the IRS because of undeclared income his wife had working as a dishwasher in several local restaurants simultaneously.

She only had one extra trade -- dishwasher. But it was at six eateries simultaneously.

The auditor was impressed at how productive my friend's wife was. That didn't stop the audit, though, nor the need to show up at an IRS office, file a police report, and submit paperwork to the Social Security Administration to clear up the resulting problems (since the IRS only deals with taxation issues, and none of the other problems resulting from the identity theft which the victim is required to fix in order to satisfy the IRS that they were truly a victim...)

This year, some congressperson submitted a bill to create a federal Department of Peace and Nonviolence. I would submit that a Department of Identity Theft is more needful.

Posted by PD Quig | October 11, 2007 10:54 AM

How about a middle ground as a transition to a stricter regime of fines and jail? Eliminate the business tax deductibility of SSN taxes paid to no-match numbers. Back off on the sanctions for now, but give business some incentive to fix the problem. The ID defrauder and the businesses would still pay all required taxes, but neither would receive any benefits for doing so. Perhaps the cost of non-compliance would still be lower than the cost of behaving legally, but at least we would provide incentive for businesses to find solutions.

Posted by Uncle Jefe | October 11, 2007 11:07 AM

To Rose's point above at 12:08am, I've got employees owning several homes, driving Cadillac Escalades, etc, here in Northern California where the median home price is around $550K, gas is above $3, and they make $15/hr.
These same guys are rumored to tell the others how easy it is to set up 3, 4, 5 different names and Soc Sec #'s, and reap the bennies. And there's nothing we can do about it. I've contacted the County Sheriff's office over reported identity theft (brought to my attention by employees), and the answer was "What do you want me to do about it?" "Do you have any proof?"

Posted by matthewd | October 11, 2007 12:17 PM


If daytrader were still working, he would not have a problem with his social security number being "in question". The SSA only checks certain data to "match" a SSN, including name (employers need to make sure this is exactly as appears on the SSA card), gender, and birth date. If workers in other states are using his SSN with their own names or aliases, their employers will definately trigger a "no match" letter from SSA because the W-2 will be wrong. If those employers try to verify the SSN with SSA and they provide a different gender and/or birth date than daytraders actual information, this will trigger a no match.

One thing to remember is that the SSA only tries to match the information. Even the Basic Pilot program that the government established more recently only matches information, it does not attempt to detect duplicate uses of the same SSN at different. This was pointed out in some of the articles covering the meat packing raids; one of the employers was checking SSN's through Basic Pilot and they came back as valid. However, they were actually stolen SSNs. It's just that the employees supplied all of the right information (again, gender, birth date, name, SSN) for the system to return a match.

I think there is going to be a growing realization the illegal immigration is heavily tied up with identity theft. As these two issues continue to intersect, it may awaken more people to the problem.

I don't know how widespread this is, but I have heard of illegals that do farm work with multiple SSNs. They work for a while under one SSN, at the end of the season they start collecting unemployment under that SSN. Meanwhile they move on to another area/crop and start working using a different SSN at a new employer while still collecting unemployment. If the SSN that they have stolen belongs to someone is another state, then the state they are working in has no chance of detecting that the SSN they use for unemployment is stolen.

I think part of the problem is compartmentalizing information and what can be done with it. Only new legislation can change this. For instance, the state governments knows every time you start a new job: when you started, where you are working. What can they do with this information? Only to check to see if you are a deadbeat parent so they can issue a child support order to your employer. Nothing else (AFAIK). If government agencies could decide to use this information for whatever other purpose they wanted, we would be creeping toward Big Brother.

The states could do a SSA verification/employment eligibility check with this info, but they don't (in fact, it would almost make more sense for the states to hook up electronically with SSA to verify new hires, instead of putting the burden on millions of employers, but of course this will only catch new hires, not existing employees).

The Captain wrote "Employers have a requirement to get Social Security information so that they can verify employment eligibility." I believe this is incorrect. Employers must get the SSN to be able to report the wages for each employee under the correct account #.

If Congress has never enacted legislation saying the information SSA collects can be used for the purposes of immigration enforcement, then DHS (which is responsible for immigration enforcement) can try to "piggy back" by putting their own letter & instructions in along with the SSA's standard no match letter. But without the legislation specifically saying they can do this, a judge will probably have a better chance of blocking this from happening.

And don't for a second doubt that SSA doesn't know who the identify thieves are. Read these:

The secret list of ID theft victims, MSNBC, 2005!

Washington DC: Social Security liability foreseen
syzy blog (title does not match contents of post)

Consider: if your SSA is stolen and used for employment elsewhere and SSA can filter out these wages/taxes so they don't get credited to your retirement benefits (check your statement each year to make sure your wages are properly credited), then they know 1) the actual name/alias used by the ID thief 2) the mailing address reported by the ID thief to their employer on the W-2 and 3) what employer the employee worked for.

So the SSA has worked out a way to filter out the wages and taxes paid by ID thieves, but they don't have the mandate from Congress, the time, or the budget to pursue them. They probably aren't even allowed turn over the information to the FBI or local law enforcement (IANAL, but privacy laws might apply!).

It is entirely possible (and wouldn't surprise me) that SSA has implemented a system that checks reported wages for persons receiving benefits (you get less benefits it you work, right? so that would save them money) without checking to see if those reported wages are going into the uncollected suspense fund. Thus the investigation into daytrader's clones working in other states while he is receiving benefits. Again, information is compartmentalized and used only for specific (often only legislated) purposes.

Posted by flenser | October 11, 2007 1:28 PM

Identity theft is a felony. Why are these felons facing nothing more than being fired from their jobs, in the event that this idiot judges ruling is overturned?

Posted by Ray in Mpls | October 11, 2007 2:23 PM

"A federal judge barred the Bush administration today from launching a planned crackdown on U.S. firms that hire illegal immigrants, warning of the plan's potentially "staggering" impact on law-abiding workers and companies."

This has got to one of the least intelligent rulings I have ever heard of. Those that abide by the law will not have to worry about it.

Knowingly providing false information (like your name and SSN) on a W4 is a felony. It's a crime that should be punished. The only way to detect such a crime is to check that the SSN is valid. If someone is found to be falsifying their w4, they should be charged.

If someone's SSN is incorrectly identified as false, the only way that person will know is if that number is checked. One that incorrect data is discovered, it can be corrected. That's a benefit for the person which could save them from possible litigation (like actuations of ID fraud) in the future. Since the business, and not the person being hired, handles the cost of reporting the SSN's, just how can ANY law-abiding citizen be "adversely" affected by such a law?

If any person is mistakingly fired for a false match, then that person can, and will, object and will get their job back. People can't be fired without just cause. Anyone can file suit for wrongful termination, it happens all the time. Any mistake would result in a ruling in favor of the fired employee. They'll get their job back, with a restoration of any lost wages. That happens a lot too. I'm sure there are plenty of lawyers that would be willing to help anyone mistakenly fired.

Posted by PETN Sandwich | October 11, 2007 9:08 PM

By Zeus... I have searched the comments for "mistake" and found ONE hit, in the context of 'mistakenly fired'.

Ed says, "The requirement for employers to provide reverification within 90 days of finding out that an employee either made a MISTAKE or ..." The rest of the quote don't matter.

Humans make MISTAKES. Granted SS is a pretty poor pension plan, but it would be proper to ensure that all workers get full credit for their work when it comes to SS.

There are at least three opportunities for human error here - when the worker cites their SSN, when the employer enters that into their accounting system, when the SSA credits that employee for their contribution.

What the decision does is deny the employers and their employee notice that the employee may not be credited with their contributions.

What does this decision say?

That workers and their employers shall not be informed of inconsistencies that may result the worker being denied their due earnings because - it may show that there was a human error (no shiite sherlock, a trivial solution if there ever was one); or it may lead to, horrors, an deliberate identity theft (hardly a reason to correct a typo).

Why bother the employer first? Because they provided the Fed with the name & SSN. Before walking this cat back the Fed will check their data. If it checks then walk it back. The employer can then check their data. If it checks then walk it back. If the employee made an error he will get a shiny new SS card and get it fixed... or he will move down the road.

Might as well issue an injunction against the Fire Dept against responding to fire alarms because it may result in 'costs' on the property owner when the chief bothers him about this , that, and the other thing, or it may lead to, horrors, arson.

Posted by Lowly Knave | October 11, 2007 9:29 PM


I must disagree on this one. When you state:

"So let's get this straight. Employers have a requirement to get Social Security information so that they can verify employment eligibility."

Social Security is voluntary. You are required to get a number if you want benefits, but otherwise it is unnecessary. Further, it is illegal for the SSA to give out anyone's number without their permission. Requiring a number holder to release this information for a job smacks of tattooing numbers on arms.

A cursory look at an I-9 will verify that a social security number is not required. A birth certificate and another ID will suffice.

Call the SSA and ask them. I've got 50 bucks to your favorite charity if I am wrong. I'm not.

Posted by matthewd | October 12, 2007 11:06 AM

PETN Sandwich,

"What the decision does is deny the employers and their employee notice that the employee may not be credited with their contributions."

Actually, SSA can still send out the no match letters. They send these out every year. What the judge is blocking is the notice/procedures that DHS wants to add along with the SSA's standard letter. This would require the employer to take the actions that could result in termination for the employee. The SSA has been holding off on sending this year's letters because they were first waiting for DHS to finalize the procedures and now they are awaiting the result of the court rulings.

What DHS wants to do is make an unmatched social security number be "constructive knowledge" that an employee is not eligible to work, and must then be terminated.

The way a labor lawyer explained to it me, right now when an employer gets a no match letter, they can tell the employee that it did not match and they need to fix it. If the employee does nothing about it and says nothing to the employer, the employee is in the clear. If the employee is dumb enough to go back to his boss and say "I can't fix it because I'm not here legally" then the employer at that point has constructive knowledge that the employee is not eligible to work and must be terminated.

The DHS procedures will make the fact that an employee cannot resolve a SSN mismatch within 90 days "constructive knowledge" that an employee is not eligible to work in this country, requiring the employer to terminate the employee.

IANAL, but I would imagine that if an actual citizen is unable to navigate the SSA bureaucracy and get a mismatch situation resolved, the employee could present other documentation that provides evidence that he or she is a citizen (e.g. birth cert, passport). That would probably be a good enough defense for the employer to assert, if DHS tried to fine them, that they had constructive knowledge indicating that the employee was a US citizen and eligible to work.

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