First time offenders who come into the U.S. illegally are generally charged with a misdemeanor – but a new bill aims to change that.
Legislation introduced by Rep. Diane Black, R-Tenn., Tuesday would make illegal entry into the U.S. a felony offense, something she said would act as a “disincentive” to people who are thinking of crossing the border.
“The United States government should never prioritize illegal immigrants over American citizens,” Black said in a statement. “By no longer creating incentives to come to our country unlawfully, we also discourage families from sending their children on an often dangerous journey to reach our southern border.”
“We are a compassionate nation and we are a country filled with compassionate people. I’ve been abroad and I’ve seen the hardships that people go through, but we’ve got to have some kind of control and order,” she said.
Dubbed the “Zero Tolerance for Illegal Entry Act,” Black’s bill would also mandate employers use the E-Verify system to ensure employees are in the country legally and allowed to work in the U.S. Additionally, it redirects funding from so-called sanctuary cities to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.
“It’s so simple,” Black said of her bill. “It just takes some of the [issues] we’ve talked about for years and puts it all in one bill.”
Black, who has served in Congress since 2011, is also running for governor in Tennessee.
The congresswoman’s new border security push comes on the heels of the Justice Department’s enforcement of its own “zero-tolerance” policy, which was first introduced by Attorney General Jeff Sessions in April.
The immigration policy received swift backlash when thousands of illegal alien minors were separated from their families. After national outrage, Trump signed an executive order in June allowing families to remain together in detention.
Meanwhile, an IRS audit revealed that at least 1,400,000 illegal aliens had stolen identities of American citizens.
Most illegal aliens who pay taxes have stolen someone else’s legal identity, and the IRS doesn’t do a very good job of letting those American citizens and legal immigrants know they’re being impersonated, the tax agency’s inspector general said in a report.
The theft creates major problems for the American citizens and legal foreign workers whose identities are stolen, and who have to deal with explaining money they never earned.
But the IRS only manages to identify half of the potentially 1.4 million people likely affected by the fraud in 2015, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration said in its report.
“Cases of employment identity theft can cause significant burden to innocent taxpayers, including the incorrect computation of taxes based on income that does not belong to them,” said J. Russell George, the inspector general.
It’s long been a conundrum in the federal government.
The IRS knows of 2.4 million people a year who file taxes using an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, which is generally given out to illegal aliens who aren’t authorized to work. But the IRS is not allowed to talk with Homeland Security to help agents identify who and where those taxpayers are.
The illegal aliens file their forms with their ITINs, but the W-2 forms they submit show valid Social Security numbers that they fraudulently gave to their employer to clear an initial work authorization check.
A staggering 87 percent of forms filed online using ITINs showed income credited to a Social Security number. More than half of forms filed by paper also showed that same fraudulent behavior.
The IRS tries to mark the files of the fraud victims when electronic filings are used. But the tax agency misses about half of the victims, the inspector general said.
For paper forms, the IRS did even worse, the audit found.
The tax agency, in its official reply to the report, insisted it takes identity theft “very seriously.”
Kenneth C. Corbin, commissioner of the IRS’s wage and investment division, said it has just completed a pilot program to figure out how to notify taxpayers they’re the victims of fraud.
But he said in most of the cases they’re missing right now, the Social Security number given is for someone who doesn’t have a tax account on their system. He said they can’t create a notification for someone who’s not in their files, and said because of privacy concerns they won’t just send a notification to the addresses listed.
He also said there are cases where someone knowingly loaned out their Social Security to an unauthorized worker, and thus wasn’t properly a victim but a conspirator.
The IRS agreed to some of the inspector general’s recommendations but refused others. Mr. Corbin said the IRS would do what it could, but pleaded poverty, saying the agency has “limited resources.”
“We cannot commit to additional actions that would require significant resources to accomplish,” he wrote.
Meanwhile, California courts will try to curb the caseload by assigning a judge to oversee misdemeanor immigration cases and holding large, group hearings that critics call assembly-line justice.
The move puts California in line with other border states, and it captures the strain that zero tolerance has put on federal courts, particularly in the nation’s most populous state, which has long resisted mass hearings for illegal border crossing.
The mass hearings can be traced back to December 2005, when the Border Patrol introduced “Operation Streamline” in Del Rio, Texas, to prosecute every illegal entry. Over the next three years, the practice spread to every federal court district along the border except California, whose federal prosecutors argued that scarce resources could be better spent going after smuggling networks and repeat crossers with serious criminal histories.
Mr Americana, Overpasses News Desk
June 11th, 2018