Wednesday, July 04, 2007

David Reinhard Scoops Oregonian News Reporters

Interesting that David Reinhard’s opinion column, “So is this what you call compassion?” in the Oregonian was way ahead of an Oregonian news article on the problems of ID theft by illegal immigrants. On June 24 Reinhard wrote:

OK, maybe generalities like the "rule of law" or even specifics don't do anything for you. That seems to be the case for people like Portland Mayor Tom Potter, who announced to one and all that he was angry at federal officials for the Fresh Del Monte raids and sorry for "Portland residents" who now faced deportation. But how about a little love for the U.S. citizens who had had their Social Security numbers lifted by Potter's "Portland residents"? Or a little sympathy for us who pay taxes to send our kids to school?

This isn't a victimless crime or, as some claim, a boon to the Social Security system since the illegals are paying into a cash-strapped system from which they'll never receive benefits. The affidavit says otherwise.

You try having somebody filch your Social Security number. The Internal Revenue Service might come calling and ask you to pay back taxes on the earnings reported under your number with no corresponding income-tax return filed. Or the extra wages charged to your hijacked account might subject you to the system's annual earnings test and result in a suspension of benefits.

Yes, the extra wages might lead to a higher Social Security benefit -- until the government finds out you didn't earn them, recomputes your benefit downward and bills you for the overpayment. Or, if you receive Social Security disability income, the government might cut, suspend or end your benefits because the unreported wage income would show an ability to work. It's all great fun.

It's doubtful Potter will ever rush out a press release declaring his "anger" about the hassle and disruption that U.S. citizens experience from this kind of identity theft. Nor should victimized legal residents expect the sob-story treatment that marks much media coverage of the illegals' (self-inflicted) plight.

No, a selective and stunted compassion is at work on the illegal immigration issue. There's fretting about what will happen to the detained workers and their families, but little else.

The June 12th raid at Portland Del Monte plant raised a number of issues in the press and among politicians and activist groups--but ID theft was not one of them. After Reinhard raised the issue in his column, the Oregonian followed a week later with an article on it.

The Oregonian news article, “Illegal Workers Turn to ID Theft”, was published July 1. Gosia Wozniacka reported:

During one stretch last year, American Staffing Resources -- which supplied temporary workers to the Fresh Del Monte plant -- employed 596 workers there, of whom 463, about 78 percent, were using someone else's Social Security number, according to a federal search warrant affidavit. Only 48 employees had valid, matching Social Security numbers.

This year, the Social Security numbers used by 184 American Staffing workers at the plant did not belong to them. Seven belonged to elderly people, about 20 to children, and 29 to people who had died, according to the affidavit.

Federal authorities attribute the proliferation of fraudulent documents to a rise in multinational criminal organizations branching out into the documents market and the misuse of Social Security numbers by employees.

That’s 27 living victims in just this one case. The figures for "one stretch" last year showed 463 workers who were using someone else’s Social Security number. This case included only 184. 184 is 40% of 463. So, you can probably multiple the 27 victims by 2-1/2 times to get a real figure--closer to 70 people--who are victims of identity theft in just this one plant in a year. Most of the victims, being children, will have a surprise when they reach adulthood and try to actually use their identity. Imagine trying to untangle identity theft years and years after it has occurred.

Not to mention the impact of the care and feeding of "multinational criminal organizations" by those who want to look the other way.

It took David Reinhard to get this considered as a newsworthy issue.

All victims are equal, but some are more equal than others.

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