Reality Check: The Long Reach of Illegal Immigration

My anger over the current crisis surrounding illegal immigration is a little personal. Way back in 1999, a person I worked with stole my identity – name, social security number, date of birth, address at my parents’ house, all of it – and bought a car. When the payments weren’t made the bank I worked for at the time started chasing me down. I got harassing phone calls every day from a guy who was determined in his refusal to believe that I didn’t own a fully-restored 1960’s Thunderbird. It took six months to convince them that I never applied for or ever took control of that vehicle. Believe it or not, that was far more efficient than what was about to happen.

Fast forward to 2005. At least I think that’s when it happened. Two Mexican men who worked for the same company that employed me, a small family-owned company, got their hands on my social security number and started establishing new identities. Both of them ended up getting worker’s compensation. Both opened bank accounts and credit cards. One got an auto loan and the other managed to get a mortgage (how that happened I’ve nary a clue). I didn’t know anything until I filed my tax return in 2006. Instead of the fair-sized direct deposit I expected, I got a letter. I had apparently worked THREE other jobs, collected worker’s comp at two different addresses that I didn’t recognize, and owed far more in taxes than I had paid according to the IRS.

It wasn’t until 2008 that I finally got my back returns for the previous three years combined. In the meantime, I had also begun to get letters from two banks and a lawyer regarding debt on several accounts that were somehow linked to me. It wasn’t until this year that I didn’t have any difficulty in getting tax returns paid. Five years. That is how long it took me to convince Wells Fargo, Desert Schools Credit Union, and the IRS that I hadn’t worked for a restaurant or a construction company and that I hadn’t collected worker’s comp or taken out loans for a 2005 Chevrolet Tahoe or a house down on Southern Avenue. I was even threatened with the specter of imprisonment at one point – for fraud that I hadn’t committed. I never told my family and most of my friends never heard about it because I was genuinely afraid that I might be in big trouble over another person’s crime. It was a nightmare I hope never to revisit.

Today, MCSO deputies raided a local family-owned sanitation business called Parks & Sons after the company hired people who used fake ID’s and stolen social security numbers to get their jobs. The raid was the culmination of an eight-month-long investigation into a tip from an employee. As is customary now, wives showed up with a small army of children in tow, some of them crying and screaming at deputies for arresting the men. Only seven were actually taken into custody; another 40 are at large, most of whom managed to jump fences and escape as the raid began.

One woman, Maria Ruiz, said, “they’re coming here to arrest people that are here working…how come he doesn’t go to the border or to, uh, somewhere to arrest criminals? People that are on the streets? I have six kids! So what’s gonna happen now? I’m waiting for my US citizenship. My kids are US citizens! So what’s gonna happen now?” Naturally, the cameras captured her and a friend both wearing the customary “Legalize Arizona” t-shirts that anti-SB 1070 protesters wear (either it’s becoming a staple in their wardrobe or they were prepared for this incident). And they were captured crying hysterically as the MCSO paddywagon pulled away. It was all very dramatic.

There was no drama when I found out that I was being held responsible for bills I hadn’t incurred. I was the only one crying when I got a phone call from an investigator who told me that the penalty for tax fraud could be prison time. Nobody was there to crusade for me when two illegal immigrants bailed on their debts when they couldn’t find jobs and I was the only one left without a chair. I did nothing wrong, yet I paid dearly.

I get tired of hearing about how the illegals have such a rough time of it. It makes the hair stand up on the back of my neck when I see these people showing up at deportation raids wailing and gnashing teeth about how horrible it is that their loved one is being arrested. They say it’s all about racism. I say they’re full of shit. I have lived the reality of identity theft and I am angry that nobody seems to care about the fallout from these supposedly “victimless” crimes. What’s worse is that there are far worse examples out there and people have put out far more time and money than I did to clean up their credit. Some of the victims are kids who have no idea what’s in store for them – the first time they go to open a checking account, they’ll be rebuffed because there are already accounts and loans under their identity.

To Maria Ruiz and those like her, I say this: get out of my country. Stop popping out anchor babies. Stop using whatever means you think you can get away with to get jobs, bank accounts, mortgages, business loans, worker’s compensation, and unemployment benefits. The pity party is only going to get you so far. Obama won’t be in office forever. We will not allow political correctness to destroy our country.