THE RED TAPE CHRONICLES: TWO LIVES, ONE SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER
Like arriving home to see a broken window, Holli knew something was wrong when she pulled up the statement from her new 401(k) account and saw a stranger's name there. Under her name and account information, she found a second name: Paulino Rodriguez. But was it an accident, random vandalism or a serious crime? She opened the virtual door to her account and sorted through the broken glass. Her worst fears would soon be confirmed.
After some frantic research, Holli pieced together part of the story. Rodriguez, the 401(k) Web site revealed, lived in Escondido, Calif., about 90 minutes south of Holli’s home in Fountain Valley. He was a restaurant worker in an Escondido Burger King. This was no prank -- though Holli would soon feel like several government agencies, corporations and a criminal were having fun at her expense. She was a victim of something experts call Social Security number-only identity theft, generally committed by immigrants who don’t have the necessary credentials to work legally in the U.S.
Holli wondered what else the imposter had done to her credit and her good name. (Msnbc.com has agreed to conceal Holli’s identity in this story.)
Escondido is Ground Zero of the immigration debate. Just a few minutes north of the Mexican border, near San Diego, Escondido is home to thousands of Mexican immigrants who battle their way every day into the country and into gainful employment. Mexicans have been fighting in Escondido for a long time. Not far away, in 1846, U.S. forces were routed in the Battle of San Pasqual during the Mexican-American war, the worst American defeat of the conflict. Today, some say, Mexicans are again overwhelming American forces in a different kind of battle.
For the past three years, Paulino Rodriguez used Holli's Social Security number for the right to work at the Escondido Burger King. Recently, with his wife and four children, he took up residence in a middle-class subdivision on Espanas Glen Street in Escondido, a short block near Interstate 15.
Rodriguez, according U.S. immigration officials, is a Mexican national with no right to work in the United States. But thanks in part to Holli’s Social Security number, he had found a decent life for his family in Escondido, which means "hidden" in Spanish. But that that life was safe only if no one found out he was sharing Holli's identity.
Across America, perhaps millions of U.S. citizens are sharing their identities with undocumented workers who are virtually hiding behind Social Security numbers like Rodriguez. The data on the subject are incomplete, but each year nearly 10 million workers pay their taxes using the wrong Social Security number. While this can happen for a variety of reasons, most often it involves restaurant and farm workers, suggesting many of those 10 million workers are employees who are using someone else's SSN to satisfy federal employment requirements.
What do you all think of this report? I've said all along that I have little sympathy for illegal immigrants, regardless of their circumstances. I have even less sympathy and tolerance for those who hire these immigrants without making sure they are who they say they are and that they have legal and necessary documentation. A CRIME IS A CRIME IS A CRIME.
Some comments from the link:
Oh, illegal immigration is a victimless crime, right!? They only come here to work, or for a "better life for their families", right!? No, they're criminals the second they cross the border illegally, further that crime by stealing identities of innocent Americans, and they do it 100% FOR SELF BENEFIT. I'm tired of the apologists making excuses for these people. And I'm tired of them demanding "rights". Send them back where they came from. Just because most of them are Latino, doesn't make them special. They are subject to the same rules as any foreign national from anywhere else in the world. So why should they get special treatment? Send them home!!!!!
Steve, Sellersville, PA (Sent May 27, 2008 8:24:31 AM)
If a immigrant is illeagle,Why? would their children be legal citizens. Here is where the law should be changed.SEND them all back to where they came from.real Americans will take jobs no matter what they are. Our elected officials are a bunch of self indulgent jerks,they care about being reelected not the citizens.
jfoxworthy Fort Wayne IN (Sent May 27, 2008 8:24:34 AM)
Thank you for running this story. I have the same problem, except Illinois is where my imposter is residing. They even gave him a Haz-Mat CDL under my SSN! I've been told that I can basically give up on any government programs (SSN, Unemployment, education funding, etc.). I've even been audited by the IRS, and they had the audacity to tell me that I had to "prove" I wasn't my imposter! Fortunately, he had made earnings in Chicago while I was overseas working for three months. Kinda hard to argue with government paper work. Chicago (sanctuary city) refuses to arrest. Federal agencies have done little; but he has now committed Federal identity theft, tax fraud, and felony immigration violation. No hits yet to my credit report, but go read the MSNBC report on "credit report sub-files" to understand why that hasn't happened yet. I've written every Congressperson, Senator, US Attorney, and law enforcement agency in three states: IL, FL, and NC (I've given up since moving to VA). Yes, even the illustrious freshman Senator from Illinois. The only state that gave me even meager support was FL. I stopped filing police reports, mostly because I got more grief from local law enforcement than I did from my imposter. No one wants to solve this problem. Everyone (government, CRAs, employers, cities and townships, etc.) are making too much money on tis identity theft to stop it. And whose to blame them? If I could make a $1000 a year income off the earnings of 80+ million, that would be one heck of an incentive to turn a blind eye.
Mark Doe, Northern Virginia (Sent May 27, 2008 8:28:00 AM)
THIS IS PROBABLY ONE REASON WHY THE GOVERNMENT DOESN'T DO SOMETHING ABOUT THIS MESS:
Immigrant imposters usually just provide a Social Security card to their employer on their first day of work to fulfill what's known as the “I-9” requirement. Since new employment rules took effect in 1983, U.S. workers must supply documentation to prove they are eligible to work; nearly always, a Social Security number is used. While employers can call the Social Security Administration to perform limited verification of the information, that's seldom done. So it's possible -- in fact common -- that employees’ names and numbers don't match. When that happens, no one gets credit for the taxes paid by the worker. The money simply ends up in the U.S. Treasury. Since 1983, more than $500 billion in uncredited Social Security wages have been earned by so-called "no match" employees like Rodriguez. That hidden financial benefit for the government is one reason, Holli suspects, that agencies don't act more quickly on reports of SSN-only identity theft.