The Supreme Court said today it will hear a case pertinent to a recent surge in identity-theft prosecutions against illegal immigrants, the Washington Post reports. Lower courts were split over whether the government must prove that thieves knew they were stealing the identity of an actual person when they use a fake ID. A ruling against the Justice Department could hamstring recent efforts to the threat of prison time to crack down on illegal immigration, analysts say.
Lawyers say plaintiff Ignacio Flores-Figueroa, like many immigrants, had no intention of stealing an identity when he obtained false ID to get a job at a steel plant, and should receive less than the 6-year sentence he was given. Critics of the tactic say deportation is enough of a punishment, and that the statute could still be used for intentional identity theft.