No Taxpayer Funds for Identity Theft
Deseret Morning News, Monday, June 19, 2006
State must prevent ID thefts by illegals
By Ronald W. Mortensen
A year ago, Attorney General Mark Shurtleff warned us about an unprecedented epidemic of illegal immigrant-driven identity theft targeting our children. In fact, according to the Attorney General's Office, the identities of thousands of Utah children have been stolen by illegal immigrants who need Social Security numbers in order to get jobs and credit.
"Identity thieves are no respecters of age. They will steal your children's ID, ruin their credit and hurt them in ways never thought possible, before they can graduate from grade school," says Shurtleff in a press release. "Children are vulnerable even if parents do everything right."
Earlier this year, KSL-TV carried a report about an illegal immigrant who had stolen the identity of a 2-year-old girl and run up thousands of dollars of debt. The child's family was left to recover the daughter's identity at a cost of hundreds of hours of work and thousands of dollars.
A month ago, at a symposium on identity theft, a state representative told how her son's identity had been stolen by an illegal immigrant. The theft was not discovered until years later when the son went to college. Clearing his credit history has been a long and frustrating process.
And, just several days ago, the Deseret Morning News carried a story about a 9-year-old girl whose identity had been stolen by an illegal immigrant. The theft only came to light when an application for Medicaid was submitted and denied because government records showed that she was already earning income on her Social Security number.
Again, a family's life has been turned upside down and in this case, Medicaid coverage for an American citizen was delayed due to the actions of an illegal immigrant.
These cases are only the tip of the iceberg. Therefore, in an attempt to protect our families from illegal immigrant identity theft, CitizensForTaxFairness.org, a grassroots citizens group in Davis County, formally requested that Gov. Jon M. Huntsman Jr. take steps to ensure that taxpayer funds were not being used to facilitate identity theft that goes hand-in-hand with the employment of illegal immigrants.
In a letter delivered on May 8, our group asked the governor to require state officials to verify the employment eligibility and Social Security numbers of all new hires, to require state contractors who are paid with our tax monies to do the same and to require the recipients of taxpayer-funded economic development assistance to also verify employment eligibility and Social Security numbers.
Unfortunately, to date, no response has been received. However, in the interim, the governor's office found the time and taxpayer funds to help design a Spanish language Web site using the colors of the Mexican flag.
In addition, although the state and those receiving taxpayer funds still won't verify employment eligibility and Social Security numbers of new hires, the state continues to provide benefits to illegal aliens who may be using a child's stolen identity. In fact, the state's Medicaid Web site for noncitizens assures illegal immigrants that "Medicaid DOES NOT report undocumented aliens who apply for Emergency Medicaid to the Immigration and Naturalization Service (sic)."
Isn't it time our public officials get serious about protecting our children's identities rather than using taxpayer funds to provide jobs and benefits to the very people who are stealing them?
Ronald W. Mortensen is a retired Foreign Service officer and co-founder of CitizensForTaxFairness.org.
© 2006 Deseret News Publishing Company