Arizona Federal Judge Bars Identify Theft Laws Against Illegal Immigrants

On Monday 5, U.S. District Judge David G. Campbell in Phoenix, AZ barred a state law that terrorizes illegal immigrants who commit identity theft just to get a job.

At the start of 2007, the state modified its identity theft law, redefining what constitutes a crime when it pertains to illegal immigrants finding employment.

The refurbished statute made it a crime to use stolen or fake identification in order to get a job. For some, they used phony IDs to attain their employment.

The purpose of the identity theft law was to penalize job-hunting illegal immigrants with false documentation.

In a series of more than 80 workplace raids occurring in Maricopa County, Sheriff Joe Arpaio has apprehended almost 800 men and women since the law’s enactment in 2008.

Those, who were found guilty, were usually deported back to their country of origin and denied legal reentry into the U.S.

Yet, there are no federal statutes that prohibit illegal immigrants from seeking employment. Therefore, the Arizona law has been at odds with the federal law for some time now, according to Campbell.

While some Maricopa sheriffs diplomatically implemented the law, plaintiff attorney Jessica Karp says that they never carried out searches like Arpaio.

Plaintiffs in the case argue that the federal identity theft law overshadows regulations set by Arizona and is a blatant attack against immigration.

However, the county maintains the stance that the law isn’t biased, but targets both illegal and legal residents.

Some say the Arizona legislation is not to "confront identity theft, but rather to combat illegal immigration and prompt immigrants to leave the country." Others consider it to be a way "to combat identity theft."

As far as the victims are concerned, Campbell’s new ruling is working against them, not for them. They believe that it should still be considered a crime for robbing people of their identities.

Defense attorneys for the immigrants have said that most of their clients were only using it for purposes of employment and not to incur financial gain.

Identity theft victims also feel that it continues to align with the Obama administration’s apathy towards taming illegal immigration practices in the country.

To most anti-Campbell activists, the concern for citizens of the state, has visibly come in second place.

"The citizens of Maricopa County have been stripped of another protection that this state attempted to enact to protect the integrity and identity of its citizens," said Arpaio.

Attorney Bill Montgomery also agrees with this perception.

"While pretending to address the concerns of people admittedly violating the law, the victims of identity theft are deprived of the state of Arizona’s protection," he said.

Now that the state law has been reconsidered, the immigration community will have more protection against any future workplace raids.

This adds to additional immigration security measures Arizona’s legislation has been confronting for years. In 2006, a law that denied bond to immigrants was opted-out by voters of the state.

One of the only regulations that still stands is a casual police-check of people’s immigration status.


Image: iStock

Los Angeles Times-"Judge blocks Arizona ID theft law targeting job-seeking immigrants"
Arizona Capital Times-"County barred from prosecuting job-related ID theft cases"