May 8, 2009, - 2:17 pm

Dumb Supreme Court Decision of the Month: “Ignorance is Bliss” Defense Now Valid for Illegal Aliens w/Fake IDs

By Debbie Schlussel
Meant to get to this earlier in the week, but didn’t. Still, this Supreme Court decision is so boneheaded that it’s as newsworthy on Friday as it was on Monday.
Even more incredible, a unanimous Supreme Court–that means Scalia, Thomas, and Roberts joined in on the dumbassity–found that the “ignorance is bliss” defense is fine for people using stolen social security numbers. That means, if you lie and claim you didn’t know the fraudulent SS#s you used were stolen, well, you’re not an identity thief.

A unanimous Supreme Court said Monday that undocumented workers who use phony IDs can’t be considered identity thieves without proof they knew they were stealing real people’s Social Security and other numbers.



Thanks, Gringo Infidel Supreme Court For Your “Enlightened” Decision


The court’s decision limits federal authorities’ use of a 2004 law, intended to get tough on identity thieves, against immigrants who are picked up in workplace raids and found to be using false Social Security and alien registration numbers.
Advocates for immigrants had complained that federal authorities used the threat of prosecution on the identity theft charge, which carries a two-year mandatory prison term, to win guilty pleas on lesser charges and acceptance of prompt deportation.

And this “acceptance of prompt deportation” is a bad thing because . . .?

“These prosecutions have been taken off the table,” said Nina Perales, southwest regional counsel for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund.

MALDEF applauds. Gee, whatta shocker.

The court, in an opinion by Justice Stephen Breyer, rejected the government’s argument that prosecutors need only show that the identification numbers belong to someone else, regardless of whether the defendant knew it.
Breyer said intent is often easy to prove in what he called classic identity theft. “Where a defendant has used another person’s information to get access to that person’s bank account, the government can prove knowledge with little difficulty,” Breyer said.

PUH-LEEZE. The intent is implicit in the use of the Social Security number that isn’t yours. You know that it’s likely stolen. Res Ipsa Loquitur–the thing speaks for itself.

But immigrants without proper documentation need identity documents and often buy them from forgers, never knowing if they belong to anyone.

Again, PUH-LEEZE. If you believe that, then I have some land in Gaudalajara to sell you.

Such was the case with the undocumented worker on the winning side Monday. Ignacio Carlos Flores-Figueroa, a Mexican immigrant employed at a steel plant in East Moline, Ill., traveled to Chicago and bought numbers from someone who trades in counterfeit IDs.
Unlike earlier fictitious numbers Flores-Figueroa used, these numbers belonged to real people.

Yes, I’m sure he investigated the previous ones to determine they were fakes and is just so upset these ones are real. Uh-huh, he was “duped” into knowingly buying Social Security numbers that weren’t his. Just as he was forced to come to America illegally and take a steel plant job.

Flores-Figueroa had worked at the plant under a false name for six years. His decision to use his real name and exchange one set of phony numbers for another aroused his employer’s suspicions.

Wow, real perceptive. Someone has two sets of social security numbers, and someone thinks that’s suspicious. Ya think?

He was arrested in 2006 and convicted on false document and identity theft charges.
He appealed his conviction as an identity thief.

Gaming the system. They all do it, ‘cuz we let ’em.

The Bush administration used the identity theft law hundreds of times 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.

Tough noogies. They knew the numbers weren’t theirs. That should be enough.
But now it isn’t. Next, the Supremes will be telling us that a person who walks into a bank with a gun and asks for money isn’t doesn’t really know the gun is loaded, and therefore, no armed robby charges should follow.
Even without Barack Obama in office, this is the kind of Supreme Court decision that is helping us lose our country and, certainly, its national security.
Now, what happens when all of these illegals challenge their deportations based on their use of false social security numbers? Don’t doubt they’ll be back to clog the court system with their challenges and appeals based on this boneheaded new legal precedent.
Read Vicki Crawford’s excellent column on this, “Ignorance is Bliss: Playing the I-Didn’t-Know Card,” in the Naples Daily News.

10 Responses

Lots of conservatives tell us that we should vote for Republicans and not stay at home. One of their main arguments is the importance of appointing Supreme Court judges that will follow the constitution and not make new law — by implication that they will follow conservative causes. Decisions like this should be kept in mind when arguments like this are raised.

c f on May 8, 2009 at 3:08 pm

I don’t get it. Even if it did not belong to someone simple common sense tells you it is not right.
By the way, if this is a valid defense, there are amlost no limits on what this defense can be applied to. Excuse me officer, I didn’t know …

i_am_me on May 8, 2009 at 3:17 pm

ICE lawyers should have known this was going to happen. Once again ICE makes bad case law while playing politics for the previous Administration. Neither the Republicans nor the Democrats have been serious about immigration control for decades. Bush wanted ICE to conduct dog and pony shows raids on businesses, primarily meat packing plants and file criminal charges related to the made for TV events.
ICE agents were not then and are not now, allowed to arrests the thousands of illegal immigrants who agents cross paths with each and everyday. Bush was not serious about stopping and/or deporting illegal aliens and neither is the ObamaNation. Amnesty is next.
The U.S. Border will never be secure because the United States grants amnesty every 20 years and does nothing to stop the illegals from remaining in the country once they get pass the border. Obama has cut all funding for worksite enforcement. Only those illegal aliens arrested by state, local and federal agents on other criminal charges will be deported. Everyone else can stay.
Blame ICE not the Supreme Court for this bad case law. ICE should have known not to use statutes that they had no jurisdiction to enforce and were absent the legislative intent that ICE was using to make the lame criminal cases. ICE could have arrested and deported hundreds of thousand of illegals during the Bush years. Instead ICE went after a couple thousand illegal aliens working in meat packing plants. ICE charged the aliens with weak criminal charges which resulted in time served only (days not months). ICE then bragged about the huge increase in criminal arrests since the creation of the Department of Homeland Stupidity (DHS). ICE could have charged most of the aliens with re-entry or other immigration violations. ICE could have used the administrative deportation process as Congress intended. But NO. ICE made criminal cases that a blind man could see would not stick in the appeals process. ICE SUCKS and the country is less secure than ever.

bonzerwolf on May 8, 2009 at 3:23 pm

bonzerwolf hits it right on the head. This limp agency never had any intentions of enforcing immigration law, primarily worksite enforcement. It was nothing but window dressing and waste of manpower and taxpayers’ money. Let’s not forget that it wasn’t Bush alone who condoned this farce; Julie Myers and her pet pup Marcy Freeman made all the decisions regarding the majority of the worksite operations. The SAC’s, ASAC’s, RAC’s, and others took their marching orders directly from Washington…the “case agents” (LOL) weren’t privy to anything nor allowed to run the case.
When it came down to identity theft, most US Attorney’s offices had these ridiculous threshholds for prosecution, i.e., there had to be a $15,000 loss to the true owner of the ID’s in question. Gee, the alien probably bought numerous cell phones, cars, big-screen TV’s and a host of other consumer goods off the identity of another and ruined their credit in the process. No crime here.
As far as criminal prosecution of illegal aliens goes, it’s a thing of the past folks. The poor agents who still have to work for this pathetic agency do not pursue and alien investigations unless they stumble into one as a result of investigating legacy customs crap because that’s what it has evolved to.
You think it’s bad now, sit back and enjoy the show!!!
WTF, over!!!

ICEnomore on May 8, 2009 at 4:26 pm

I also agree with Bonzerwolf. This is just another example of the lack of practical thinking by ICE management and legal beagles. Not to leave anyone out, Congress, the previous administration and ICE management have also failed to AGRESSIVELY address any sort of MEANINGFUL immigration reform. This is what happens when the enforcement of laws becomes nothing but a political football.
ICE management dedicated mounds of money into worksite enforcement. Now that investigative area has gone down the drain. More money WASTED!!!
Until Congress, the current administration and DHS achieve an aggressive and clear cut immigration policy, we will just have more of the same.
The only sign that someone may be looking correcting the DHS mess, specifically the ICE debacle, is that FPS has been removed from under ICE. Hopefully some intelligent person in Washington is taking a look at ICE with the goal of TOTAL restructering, including desolving ICE, putting legacy Customs Agents back in CBP, thus seperating them from Immigration investigations.

ICEDover on May 8, 2009 at 5:20 pm

“A unanimous Supreme Court said Monday that undocumented workers who use phony IDs can’t be considered identity thieves without proof they knew they were stealing real people’s Social Security and other numbers.”
One has to wonder what these imbeciles that call themselves judges eat, or WTF’s in the water they drink in Washington? For supposedly being the best judicial thinkers we have, have instead exposed themselves as Saturday Night Live comedians. They continue to be the laughing stock of America.
Not a one of these funny looking idiots wearing long black dresses have a clue of what’s going on in Arizona law enforcement, or what the back ally document forgers of Los Angeles, California are doing to destroy America. They did prove, that the federal courts need a massive overhaul, with dire need of citizen grand-jury oversight. What’s in need to junk, are the judicial laughing foxes, that guard their own hen (court) houses.

Jackson Pearson on May 8, 2009 at 6:00 pm

If I had a nickel for every illegal immigrant I have prosecuted that had fake identification, either U.S. or Mexican, I wouldn’t be rich, but I could certainly have Starbucks every day. I have been a criminal prosecutor in Central California for 12 years. We pay for their housing, food and health care, then when they’re convicted we pay for that same thin while they’re in custody – oh, and don’t forget the cost for interpreters for all of their cases……..

PollyPrissyPants on May 8, 2009 at 9:26 pm

Also known as the “Quien Yo?” defense. We have effectively lost our country. Just wait until they try and draft MY sons into the military like they did me. Ain’t gonna happen this time around ’cause it ain’t worth fighting for anymore. All the thousands upon thousands of men who died for their country in combat only to see the dream GIVEN away…

#1Vato on May 8, 2009 at 9:37 pm

Uh-Oh. Once again, Bonzerwolf, ICEnomore, Icedover. Watch out. You guys will have to defend your remarks to ICE’s consumate cheerleaders: EVS and Priceless. Yes those two spin doctors may come on here and tell you guys just how it really is here at the sinking ship known as ICE. They may say how we’re doing such good work, and nobody, namely other federal agencies, state and locals, U.S. Attorneys and the public in general, are not really laughing at us.
“Yes you heard it here folks, all hits , all day on EVS radio live…where the bullshit just keeps on rollin!”
Maybe one day soon I will be able to paraphrase, ICEnomore, JustSayNotoICE, ICEDover, Freefromice, and all the others by saying, “I AM SO GLAD TO BE GONE FROM ICE.”

notanEVSfan on May 8, 2009 at 11:12 pm

This Supreme Court decision was not about ways for immigrants to wage an “ignorance is bliss” defense. In fact, it is not about a defense at all. It is about an overly zealous prosecution. If, say, an underage person were caught sneaking into a bar with false ID, they would be guilty of a misdemeanor. But, if the police get hold of them and tell them they are guilty of “Identity Theft” – a felony, and use the threat of a lengthy prison sentences to extract a “confession” out of them for some lesser but still serious crime, then the police have overstepped there bounds. Based solely on this sneaking-into-a-bar action, the person is guilty of using false ID for the purpose of obtaining alcohol while underage, but not of Identify theft. In the United States we do not throw persons using false ID into prison on felony convictions. An underage bar patron using false ID should only be found guilty of identity theft if in fact they not only used it to enter a bar illegally, but knowingly used it to slip into the role of that other person’s life for the purpose of financial gain or otherwise impact that person life in a detrimental and serious way. To simply and anonymously obtain a “false ID” does not in-and-of-itself constitute Identity theft – and the courts have rightfully agreed.
I think that any rational mind would conclude that the above article is racist-biased. It purposely gives the impression that immigrants are evil men. While in fact, we are talking about immigrant families and innocent children all coming to a new land with the hope of bettering their lives. It saddens me to read that some factory is raided by the immigration police. Think how you would feel if all you wanted to do was earn a living and tend to your family’s needs and found that the police were always against you. It isn’t right.
I am of the opinion that all of the Earth belongs to the people, and that no legal entity should be permitted to make illegal the immigration or emigrating to or from any country. Remember, we are all the sons and daughters of past immigrants. Life began in Africa, and civilization has been in a process of migration all along. It is cruel and pointless for these embarrassing laws to be put on the books. If people have a problem with immigrants, they should make meaningful laws to deal with the actual issues – and not just racist and crawl blanket-immigration-laws. Immigrates want nothing more than an opportunity to live their lives with the same dignity that we all cherish. All lives have equal value. All people deserve a chance to lead healthy, productive lives.

Stan Shankman on January 26, 2010 at 10:31 am

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