Children as Collateral Damage
From the Park (City) Record (Not available on the Web)
The Collateral Damage of Illegal Alien Driven Identity Theft
A recent Park Record editorial expressed concern over the “collateral” arrests of illegal aliens who were not the prime targets of an immigration raid. According to the editorial, “In this case, the collateral damage consists of the shattered families of the men who had not broken any laws other than working without proper immigration documents.”
However, the editorial totally ignored the collateral damage that occurs each time an illegal alien commits a felony by using a fraudulently obtained social security number to get a job with a reputable employer.
In 2005, the Utah Attorney General's office reported that an investigation had "uncovered an alarming new crime spree involving illegal aliens and identities stolen from victims under the age of 12." That investigation only looked at the social security numbers of children on public assistance and yet it found that approximately 1,800 kids had their social security numbers being used by someone else.
A year later, a follow-up investigation revealed that the number of 12-year-olds whose social security numbers were being used by another person had tripled and many children were being victimized multiple times. In fact, one child's social security number was being used by 37 different individuals. Since children on public assistance only make up a small percentage of all Utah children, it is estimated that between 20,000 and 50,000 children may be the victims of identity theft.
In addition, the investigation discovered that 1,626 companies were contributing to this collateral damage by making salary payments to social security numbers that belong to children under the age of 12.
We must all be concerned about these serious crimes committed by illegal aliens seeking jobs because, according to Attorney General Mark Shurtleff, "Identity thieves ... will steal your children's ID, ruin their credit and hurt them in ways never thought possible before they can graduate from grade school. Children are vulnerable even if parents do everything right."
The reason children are so vulnerable is that in addition to having their social security numbers stolen after they are born, their numbers may be used even before they are born. This occurs when an illegal alien purchases and uses a social security number that has not yet been officially issued. Later, that number is assigned to a new born who is literally born into identity theft. In either case, the criminal illegal alien, who has committed document fraud and identity theft, both felonies, can use the child’s number for many years before the theft becomes known and with every day that goes by the collateral damage becomes more serious and more difficult to undo.
The impact of child identity theft is devastating for the family as well as for the child. At a minimum, it will take the parents hundreds of hours and likely thousands of dollars to reclaim their child's identity and there is no guarantee that the problem will not reoccur. If the theft isn't discovered until the child is older, she may find that she is ineligible for financial assistance to pursue her studies, may not be able to get a credit card, could be denied a car loan and may be ineligible for public assistance including critically needed health insurance and medical assistance.
The sad truth is that innocent Utah families will continue to be numbered among the mounting collateral damage of this illegal immigrant driven identity theft epidemic as long as we continue to unwittingly sacrifice our children for misplaced compassion and profits.
Mortensen is a retired Foreign Service officer who served three tours in Africa and continues to respond to international humanitarian crises in Africa, the Middle East and Asia. He is also a co-founder of CitizensForTaxFairness.org.