Wednesday, September 5, 2007
By Mitch Shaw
Bountiful American Legion publicizes link with illegal aliens
BOUNTIFUL -- The American Legion commander here is taking an active role in the fight to protect Utah children from illegal immigrant-driven identity theft.
In response to an investigation by federal and state officials, American Legion Post 79, in Bountiful, adopted resolutions recently on identity theft driven by illegal aliens. The resolutions have since been approved by both the Utah and National American Legion conventions.
According to the Utah attorney general's office, the investigation "uncovered an alarming new crime spree involving illegal aliens and identities stolen from victims under the age of 12."
Ronald Mortensen, commander of American Legion Post 79 and co-founder of CitizensForTaxFairness.org, said that using government funds to hire individuals using stolen identities is a misuse of taxpayer money.
Mortensen said he has spoken to a number of groups and government organizations on how they can help reduce identity theft.
"Our resolutions on illegal immigration address an area that is often overlooked," he said. "Illegal alien-driven identity theft is a serious felony that impacts thousands of Utah children each year."
In June, the Utah American Legion convention adopted Post 79's resolution that opposed the use of taxpayer funds to hire illegal aliens using unlawfully obtained Social Security numbers and other fraudulent documents. The resolution also called on Utah governments and businesses to verify the Social Security numbers of all new hires.
In August, the American Legion's national convention adopted Post 79's resolution that calls on Congress to immediately deport illegal aliens convicted of identity theft.
The resolution also calls on Congress to help the victims of illegal alien identity theft reclaim their identities and remove derogatory information from their records.
Mortensen said some illegal immigrants commit identity theft because they have to get a Social Security card before they can be hired by law-abiding employers.
"It is time that our employers, our state and local governments and civic leaders acknowledge there is a problem and that we need to do something about it," Mortensen said.
Mortensen said he acknowledges that identity thieves exist in all segments of society. Parents with poor credit have been convicted of stealing their own children's Social Security numbers to get loans or find jobs, he said.
Many people who steal identities target children, because the thefts are unlikely to be discovered until the children apply for credit cards or loans as teenagers.
According to a 2005 news release from the Utah attorney general's office, Mortensen said, the identities of 1,800 Utah children under the age of 12 have been stolen.
In other cases, someone will fraudulently make up a Social Security number, and then the government will unknowingly assign the number to a child.
"Sometimes the child will have a credit history before it is even born," said Mortensen. "It's something that definitely has to stop."
Jesse Garcia, an Ogden City Council member and leader in the Ogden Hispanic community, said he supports the American Legion's fight against illegal immigrant-driven identity theft.
"I don't have a problem with it at all," he said. "As long as they go about it legally and approach it properly. Obviously, identity theft is a problem and needs to be dealt with."