Peddled on the Streets of Los Angeles: Ice Cream, Hot Dogs, and Fake Social Security Cards

For undocumented immigrants, forged employment documents can easily be purchased at places like MacArthur Park in Los Angeles.

Comments: 52

  1. Both those selling and those buying fake social security cards and green cards are committing criminal fraud. And how is the blatant, wonton violation of ours laws the fault of anyone but the perpetrators? Why is their law breaking excused because they are 'immigrants' while citizens would be prosecuted for the same crime?

  2. I betcha Social Security knows when a payment comes in for workers with phony ID. A president who really wanted to stop this would ask congress to fund a program to ensure that a letter from social security followed by a visit from Ice would make it very uncomfortable to hire the undocumented but that is not what he does. He focuses on the wall which won’t stop anything The wall is a fraud. Only programs that make it a crime to employ along with diplomacy to address why they come will reduce the flow. The wall is a distraction .

  3. @Deirdre Social Security sends "Do Not Match" letters to all employers when the fake SSN does not match the name, DOB on the real SSN or the SSN does not. So the employer always knows they're illegal and ignores it because there is no penalty. Illegals don't bother getting quality forgeries it doesn't matter. No need for a wall, we could eliminate virtually all illegal immigration overnight if we started penalizing employers using the SSA/IRS "do not match" lists.

  4. @Deirdre, Undocumented workers pay about $25 billion in federal income tax. Some use legit tax ID numbers, but some, as the story illustrates, buy fake social security numbers. Undocumented workers contribute to social security even though they are ineligible to receive benefits. What incentive does the IRS have to curtail this sizable chunk of income? It's a complete win for the federal coffers, and so for all of us. It is possible -- some would say likely, given his failure to be transparent -- that the average undocumented worker pays more in federal income tax than Donald Trump.

  5. There really is no credible deterrent for employers to hire illegal aliens. The current fine, assuming an employer is caught and actually prosecuted that they knowingly hired in illegal alien, is $250. The entire deterrent system for employers is a joke and Trump’s stupid wall is just some bright shiny object intended to distract us from what’s really going on.

  6. Capitalism at its purest. Find a demand and satisfy it. What could be more American?

  7. What happens to the people whose names and Social Security numbers are stolen?

  8. @Talbot, it's a nightmare to get fixed! Ruins credit scores too.

  9. @Talbot Parents and grandparents should put their kids/grandkids on credit watch. It is very possible that someone has been using their Social Security number from before they were born and the number issued.

  10. If a viable ID system with forgery safeguards & government verification was implemented illegal employment would not be a problem or a convenient excuse for cheap labor ! Severe fines & jail time for criminal violations would further enhance enforcement ! This would cost MUCH less & be more effective than any border wall !! Many hypocrites whine about illegals but LOVE the cheap compliant hostage like labor like TRUMP'S HOUSEKEEPERS !!!

  11. @Herman Funny how Republicans push for real ID for voting and say nothing about real ID for working.

  12. To anyone that says that these are small crimes or not that bad, I say wait until someone hijacks your SS number, as happened to me. It was difficult to get straightened out and affected my credit score. Forgery and identity theft should be prosecuted. It is not an innocent ordeal.

  13. "About eight million undocumented immigrants participate in the United States labor force.” I imagine this number is based on an estimate by the PEW Hispanic Trust that there are about 11 million immigrants living here illegally. Professors at Yale University’s School of Management used new data streams to come up with their own estimate of illegal immigrants. They said the number could be as high as 29 million. The 1986 Immigration Act was a compromise written by Charles Schumer and signed by Ronald Reagan. To please farmers, it gave amnesty to just under the 3 million migrant farmworkers who were living here illegally in exchange for ending all further illegal immigration. (The working class did not want any more foreign workers coming here to compete for jobs.) Instead of ending illegal immigration, the compromise bill encouraged millions more to move here, illegally, on the assumption that they, too, would eventually be granted an amnesty. If we grant another amnesty, even more will be encouraged to come.

  14. @ann The Reagan Amnesty of 1986 was a colossal mistake and was characterized by massive fraud. In the aftermath, most farm workers fled the fields and went into better paying, easier, jobs, because, you see, they were only doing jobs "Americans won't do" because they were illegal. If we do the same thing again, it will have the same result. The very definition of insanity. Here's an interesting article from the NYT, by Ed Meese, Reagan's Attorney General when the mistaken Reagan Amnesty was passed. He weighed in when it looked like there was a chance this country might be trying to repeat the mistake.

  15. Every American citizen and legal resident should be issued a free identification card with biometric data, including a photo that is updated every 2 years. People should not have to travel far to apply for their cards. Application centers should be located throughout metro areas, and traveling vans could go through rural areas, taking applications and updating cards on a regular basis. Since birth certificates can be forged, the card should be issued only to those with birth certificates that have been crossed checked against the birth registries of each state, and all other available information. Naturalization papers would also need to be cross-checked as would papers awarding legal residency. Employers should be required to enter each employee’s card into a government data base to determine if he or she is permitted to work in the U.S. The process should be quick and easy like the current “e-verify” process, but unlike “e-verify” it should be reliable. My understanding is that right now, an illegal immigrant can pass the “e-verify” test by using a social security number stolen from an American citizens. A card with biometrics, such as an up-to-date photo, fingerprints, and possibly a retina scan, would eliminate such scams.

  16. So, then, how does photo ID at the voting booth prevent voter fraud? Explain that to me again please.

  17. The main culprits are the employers who knowingly use illegal immigrants as cheap labour. They are the real and voracious parasites in the system.

  18. For undocumented immigrants, forged employment documents can easily be purchased at places like MacArthur Park in Los Angeles, and the politicians do not care, as these folks are their main supporters. Oh, and the bleeding hearts, too.

  19. @Nreb If having a bleeding heart means you have compassion, then count me as one. However, it is the cold hearted employers exploiting this cheap labor that is the real problem.

  20. "Companies that have federal contracts must use E-Verify, an electronic system to snuff out fake IDs. In addition, 22 states mandate that at least some private and public employers use the system. (New Jersey and California are not among them.)" eVerify is generally a voluntary program. It is worth pointing out that the states that make eVerify mandatory for all employers are all RED states (shown in light green on the following eVerify map). When several cities in California passed ordinances making eVerify mandatory, Deep Blue California passed a law making such ordinances illegal. Those thinking employers should be stopped from hiring illegal "immigrants" should join with Republicans to make the use of eVerify mandatory.

  21. The birth rate is declining. Capitalism requires growth. There’s no better way to grow the economy than to grow the population. All the policy positions, promises and enforcement of laws from both parties are nothing more than a charade. It’s been this way for years.

  22. @David G LA Wrong: Capitalism does not require a growing populations Of course, more people usually means a bigger "economy". But a bigger economy does not mean a better economy. A bigger economy is one with more total GDP. But a better economy is one with more GDP per capita. India has a far bigger economy than Canada. But India also has far more people. Result: Canada has a far better economy --more GDP per capita.

  23. “They need me and I need them. There’s nobody else to do the work,” says the deli owner. There's the conundrum; we need low wage workers to pick the crops, clean the hotel rooms, e.t.c. Who is going to do that work? You? Me? My kids? Your kids? Next time you enjoy your cheap salad thank an immigrant.

  24. @Tornadoxy You'd be surprised at how many Americans would do the work for the right money and benefits. My ex-father-in-law spent his whole working life at Homels, on the line. A white guy. He owned a house, raised a family and bought a new Lincoln every two years. He wasn't ashamed of his job.

  25. @Tornadoxy 60% of the non elderly Medicaid enrollees in California are Hispanic. Every single congressional district in the state has more Hispanics on SNAP/Foodstamps than not. Whenever you find yourself talking about "cheap salad", keep in mind you are only focusing on part of the cost.

  26. Very simply, take it out of the states hands and make it mandatory to use E-verify for every employee. It would eliminate all of these illegal employees. Then, of course, we would have to allow workers to become legal. tax like the rest of us!

  27. Seen it many times. Ask someone whose ID was ripped-off if border-jumping is victimless. Millions spent caring for onslaught of minors. Democrats must devise solution or we’re stuck with Trump and his stupid wall. It’s the only issue he has.

  28. Let's be sure and not deport anybody for doing this stuff, that would be racist. After all, they haven't really committed a real crime. We have plenty of labor available in this country, but not always at easily exploited cost. We should be actively deporting anyone here illegally, stop birthright citizenship, end chain migration and make e-verify and employer sanctions. This would force companies to pay a decent wage and bargain with workers rather than simply turn to illegals they can take advantage of, bypassing citizens.

  29. Fake Social Security cards are available inexpensively all over this country. This is our most important document of personal identification, yet the Social Security Administration does nothing to enforce their misuse. Every illegal "immigrant" that is working is breaking all manner of laws. First, it is illegal for them to work. If they are working off the books, that is illegal and the non payment of taxes is illegal. If they are working on the books, they are using a fake Social Security card (illegal) and perjured themselves when they filled out their I-9 form (also illegal). We have a very expensive but fundamentally incompetent government.

  30. Surprise!? Rampant fraud in cumbersome yet loosey-goosey work authorization requirements? Who would have guessed? The solution is a single federally mandated nationwide comprehensive biometric ID system, for employment authorization and for income tax reporting and for all government benefits. A comprehensive system -- not merely "cards": A federally required nationwide uniform system with a federally maintained database with biometric data for everyone -- citizen and non-citizen supposedly here legally either permanently or temporarily -- and a requirement for every employer -- large and small -- including federal, state and local government employers --- and including all "non-profit" employers -- and including employers of household help -- to take biometric "reads" of every prospective employee and submit it on-line to the federally-maintained database to get verification of employment authorization, and to report to the IRS of all compensation paid to every person with identification as so verified. Every employer must get employer authorization from both ICE and the IRS and both ICE and the IRS are authorized to audit any employer. Also, every federal government agency and any state or local government agency dispensing any federal funds under any federal program must comply with the same system and get entitlement verification by taking the biometric "read" for every person to whom they pay any federally funded benefit.

  31. @sam finn The GOP will never, ever do anything that makes tax collection more effective. Never. Ever.

  32. Would like to see a follow up story on what happens on the back end, at Social Security. If numbers not issued to any living person are showing deposits into a given account, presumably the system as a whole benefits, while the undocumented person suffers, since they cannot ever collect benefits on that account. Alternatively, ( in the case of legit numbers from PR issued multiple times) , one person's account could be showing multiple workers in different states paying into the same account, more than humanly possible for one worker. In both cases, these would be fairly easily to spot on an audit or with a computer program- one wonders if such accounts are being tabulated, and the folks at Social Security have an idea of the magnitude of the fraud. The subtext being, no one in the government seems to care if extra money is being paid into Social Security by persons who could never collect.

  33. @creativereaders I recently had my wallet with my social security card inside. I receive social security disability due to a leg amputation. I was told I can only work a few hours before my social security disability check will be cut. Can an illegal alien use my stolen social security number and cause me to lose my benefits?

  34. Retired SSA employee here. Please report your lost/stolen card immediately. If someone works using your SSN, wages are reported as yours. SSA doesn’t know someone else is using your number unless the card is reported as stolen or lost. If your reported monthly income exceeds the threshold, you will lose your benefits.

  35. Although the open border Democrats love the thought of immigrants flooding the country and creating a needy underclass that will vote Democrat, identity theft carries a maximum of 15 years in prison and substantial fines because it’s not a victimless crime. If we were serious about stopping illegal immigration, ICE would be out there arresting every single one of those people for identity theft.

  36. @Truth Teller Please stop with the completely fabricated "open border Democrats" meme. If you actually read and understood the article, you would know that it's the Republican business owner "demand" side of the equation that doesn't want to stop the flow of cheap illegal labor. Instead of spending money on a wall that won't work, let's spend the money to hire more people to process these immigrants legally. But, it's not really illegal immigration you care about. It's ANY immigration. If those same liberals suggested these type of safeguards for gun ownership, you'd be screaming about invasion of privacy.

  37. @Truth Teller There was a crazy SCOTUS case about a decade ago where they ruled that using a made up Social Security number, even if it coincidentally belonged to someone, was NOT identity theft. My son found out someone was using his Social Security number, reported it to the SSA, and they directed him to the three credit bureaus to see if the person was using it to commit identity theft and mess with his credit. The SSA, itself, does not care at all if 100 people use the same number, or even if its your number. They really like any money they can get for which there is no claimant.

  38. “I’m not here to do the government’s detective work.” That's the capitalist spirit. Avoid doing the checking to increase profit. Alas, that is the problem for republicans and democrats. A slap on the wrist for the employer when they should face mandatory jail time for hiring an illegal.

  39. @tom Current law is not adequate to support charges against most employers, including, I'm sure, Mr. Langer. All the law requires an employer to do is look at a Social Security card presented by a prospective employee and get them to fill out an I-9 form. The illegal worker presents a great looking fake Social Security card, as described in this article, and commits perjury to fill out an I-9. The Mr. Langers of the economy will be able to go to their files and show you a copy of the Social Security card and I-9 for every employee. Every single one might be an illegal worker, but Mr. Langer will, in all likelihood, have broken no laws. We must have mandatory eVerify with workplace audits and do away with the flippant excuse offered by employers like Mr. Langer.

  40. @Kurfco only one problem, when that form is sent in and the number does not check out, the social security will send back a response. I want to see everify and much better oversight. Further, I want to see the letters from social security to Mr. Langer.

  41. @tom As you can read in my post above, so called "no match" letters were stopped during the Obama administration and have just been reinstituted under the Trump administration. Perhaps that why Langers has been put on the market as a redevelopment opportunity, not as a going concern restaurant.

  42. What do you call an undocumented immigrant with fake papers or a stolen identity? A criminal.

  43. Who are we to blame hard working individuals who perform daily tasks few documented Americans would agree to debase themselves to. Republicans love to speak of building medieval walls or to sending the military at the US-Mexico boarder while their corporate, industrial and farming funders are all to happy to hire individuals who have no legal rights, status or representation. These Republican officials being beholden to their sponsors’ largess are all to eager to take no discernable action. Democrats in their longstanding sheepish tradition of doing absolutely nothing are no better. Having earned a naturalized status legally and suffered the aberrant inaptitude of our immigration system and the high legal costs of unscrupulous immigration attorneys, I find myself in a position of asking myself and your readers what other options are there really for these individuals and for those in need to hire them. Until there is an efficient system the people will create their own.

  44. @Gregory Cox Illegal "immigrants" have taken over all the building trades in SoCal, doing jobs Americans most certainly perform elsewhere in the country: roofing, drywall, tile, brick, cement, framing, etc. It is a frequently repeated -- but incorrect -- meme that illegal "immigrants" do work Americans won't. If you go to Minnesota, you will find Americans doing hotel rooms, working in the back of restaurants, etc. The only thing really different about California is that it has fully a third of the illegal "immigrants" in the entire country.

  45. We are never going to have border controls. The reasonable option would be to take over the failed states to include Mexico south of us and incorporate them into the US. The US taxpayer is paying for it now but getting none of the resources. That is what is not fair.

  46. @as Take over Mexico? Really? Surely there must be some other hidden meaning.

  47. What a fun story! Imagine that-- fake documents available right out on our street corners. My oh my. We truly live in a borderless country. A Progressive Democrat's dream come true! I am being sarcastic of course. This is beyond ridiculous. Wall, please! The sooner the better. And E-Verify everywhere!!! It may also be time for a national ID that cannot be sold on street corners.

  48. In 2009, the SCOTUS essentially legitimized the fake Social Security card business when they ruled that using someone else's number was not "identity theft" if it was done unknowingly. As far as the SCOTUS was concerned, making up a number is fine, making up one that happens to belong to your granddaughter is fine as long as the person who misused the number didn't know it.

  49. I have no empathy for those who traffic in and those who buy false documents. They know they are breaking the law. The quandary is how to locate them, deport them and keep them away.

  50. When one looks at all the back and forth, etc,etc about illegal immigration, one can only come to one conclusion. The democrats are in favor of it . They don't seem to care that what is happening has the potential to fundamentally change our country.(Bi lingual nation, for one.) Higher crime rates,higher welfare use among illegals. Some of the most ardent supporters of the democrats are effected by lower wages because of illegal immigration. If things continue on this course it will not have a happy ending for our country.

  51. Since when did an index finger become an "indicator finger"?