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Justices Sympathetic To Immigrant In ID Theft Case

Publication Date: 
February 25, 2009
Associated Press
Mark Sherman

Lecturer in Law Kevin Russell is quoted in an Associated Press story regarding a Supreme Court case on whether illegal immigrants who use falsified social security numbers should be subjected to identity theft laws. Russell argued the case on behalf of an undocumented worker from Mexico who used false documents to gain employment. The Associated Press writes:

The Supreme Court appeared poised Wednesday to rule that undocumented immigrants who use phony Social Security numbers to get work should not be considered identity thieves, even if those numbers belong to real people.

The court seemed likely to reject the government's argument that, under a 2004 law that metes out a mandatory two-year prison term for "aggravated identity theft," prosecutors do not have to offer any proof that a defendant knew the identification belonged to someone else and was not simply made up.


Kevin Russell, a Washington lawyer arguing on behalf of an undocumented worker from Mexico, said there is no question that his client committed a crime by using false documents. But Russell said Congress was trying to toughen penalties for identity thieves who gain access to people's private information to drain their accounts and run up bills in their name.