Archive for Friday, September 8, 2017

Kansas Supreme Court blocks state prosecution of undocumented immigrants

Kansas Supreme Court Justices take their seats to hear oral arguments in this file photo from Dec. 10, 2015.

Kansas Supreme Court Justices take their seats to hear oral arguments in this file photo from Dec. 10, 2015.

September 8, 2017

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— The Kansas Supreme Court handed down three rulings Friday that could make it more difficult for the state of Kansas to prosecute undocumented immigrants who use stolen Social Security numbers to land jobs in the state.

In all three cases, the high court ruled 5-2 that charges of identity theft and making a false writing against those individuals were pre-empted by federal immigration law.

The cases all originated in Johnson County. They involved Ramiro Garcia, who was employed at Bonefish Grill in Leawood; Guadalupe Ochoa-Lara, who worked at a Longbranch Steakhouse, and Donaldo Morales, who had applied for a job at a Jose Pepper's restaurant in Johnson County.

The cases against Garcia and Morales were investigated by the Social Security Administration's Office of Inspector General. The case against Ochoa-Lara was investigated by the Overland Park Police Department and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

All three were convicted in Johnson County District Court on charges of identity theft for using stolen Social Security numbers and other documents to obtain employment, and making a false writing for filling out I-9 forms claiming they were eligible to work in the United States.

All three cases were initially tried by Johnson County District Judge Kevin P. Moriarty, and all three were affirmed by the Kansas Court of Appeals.

In a series of decisions Friday written by Justice Carol Beier, the Kansas Supreme Court reversed all three of those decisions, saying that under a specific federal law dealing with unlawful employment of aliens, "States are prohibited from using the I-9, and any information contained within the I-9 as the basis for any state law identity theft prosecution of an alien who uses another's Social Security information in an I-9."

The decision went on to say that it didn't matter that the same information was also contained in a federal tax form W-4, or in the state's K-4 tax form because that does not alter the fact that it was also in the I-9 form.

In addition to Beier, the opinions were signed by Chief Justice Lawton Nuss, Justices Marla Luckert and Eric Rosen, and Senior Judge Michael J. Malone, who was assigned to hear the cases in place of Justice Lee Johnson who did not participate.

Justices Dan Biles and Caleb Stegall issued separate dissenting opinions, saying they did not believe the federal statute expressly pre-empts prosecution under state law because putting the false information on state and federal tax forms were separate and distinct acts from putting the same information on an I-9 form.

Biles noted that earlier this year, the Iowa Supreme Court faced a similar case and came to the exact opposite conclusion as the majority opinion of the Kansas Supreme Court.

In a statement released through his spokeswoman, Johnson County District Attorney Stephen Howe said he was disappointed in the decision, but that he would review the court's analysis and would have more comment Monday.

Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt, whose office helped in the appeal, also said in an email statement that he planned to review the decision, “to assess what options, if any, the State may pursue.”

But Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who has built a national reputation crusading against illegal immigration, issued a statement blasting the decision.

"Unfortunately, these decisions now mean that illegal aliens who steal social security numbers and work in Kansas cannot be prosecuted," Kobach said. "This is yet another respect in which Kansas is becoming the sanctuary state of the Midwest."

Comments

Kevin Elliott 1 month ago

I have always considered Bob Summers of no legitimate value to any conversation. Thomas Bryce Jr. not much better. Bob has no morals or values. He only has sides If his side does it is right and if the left does it, it is wrong, even when IT is the same thing. That means morals and values are not based on any solid belief system or facts whatsoever, only on if his side WINS or LOOSES.

There was a time when civil discourse could cross the aisles I remember conversing with Senators Kassabaum and Dole, knowing we were on opposite sides of many issues and they would take the time and listen and explain their points of view and hear mine and we would more often than not find common ground where we both could give a little. They were civil and constructive and reasonable.

I also used to work at a women's reproductive health clinic and would carpool with a childhood friend to the clinic I would go inside to work she would join the picket line outside. We would often stop for a soda on the way home.

I do not dislike you because you have different views than I, I do not dislike you because you are a conservative I dislike you because you are needlessly cruel and inherently dishonest and because of that you have NOTHING of value to ad to the debate You are just a grumpy online dishonest bully When people like Thomas Bryce Jr Say the same type of childish immature name calling as you do and makes blanket statements about contrasting political beliefs based on sides versus values I am glad to call him out as well because my morals and values are consistent based on consistent criteria.

I do not listen to Ann Coulter nor do I listen to Al Sharpton for the same reason They are both dishonest hateful and offer no consistent values and they only ad hatefulness and cruelness to the debate without substance, just like you,

Just for the record Bob, This means I think your comments are false and worthless based on your personal character and lack of consistent values and morals and not on your political bent. I also think that of people who constantly cut and past things about Koch Brothers and anyone else who is incapable of applying reason and listening to their ability to discuss the issues Right or left

Thomas Bryce Jr. 1 month ago

Thank You ,Kevin, for the extensive explanation. I understand what you are getting at. Bob and I were just playing Free Association of words. You Know. What word or words Pop into my mind when these words are used. I try not to waste very many key strokes on a response to Bob. Thanks for your contribution. Feel free to call me out anytime you think I am out of line. I enjoy civil discourse as well as passionate debate. That IS what this forum is supposed to be about. Sometimes, just holding up a mirror for them to see themselves as we see them is a proper response. Simple and effective. Childish and Immature? If that is the reflection in the mirror, so be it.

Cait McKnelly 1 month ago

The minute I saw this, my eyebrows went up. The state did the correct and LEGAL thing, as much as some may hate it.

Clara Westphal 1 month ago

How can a court make such a decision? It is illegal to take the SSN of another person and claim it as their own. The person whose SSN was stolen and used by someone else has multiple problems to resolve the issue. Terrible decision.

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