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Joe Messina: Paying the high cost of illegal immigration

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Posted: February 25, 2009 8:06 p.m.
Updated: February 26, 2009 4:55 a.m.
“All they want to do is work!”

Such was the statement from The Signal’s Feb. 7 article “55 identity-theft suspects booked,” quoting a family member of one  picked up for identity theft.

But the hooker, the drug dealer — they just want to work  also. The problem is that what they do is illegal.

I don’t care if the people arrested earlier this month were Mexican, Asian, Italian, South American or whatever. The point is they are accused of stealing identities to work and being here illegally — that’s two crimes.

The average cost to prosecute a case like these is $17,400 each. The cost to house that inmate is $27,800 a year, according to the Department of Justice.

This does not include the cost of catching the criminals. It does not include bringing in ICE after the term is served to deport and track them.

According to a recent Gartner Group study finished in 2007, the population of identity-theft victims was 15 million — or a new victim in just over two seconds.

The incidence of victimization increased 11 percent between 2001 and 2002, and 80 percent between 2002 and 2003 (Harris Interactive).

In a bulletin published by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, an estimated 3.6 million households were affected by identity theft during a six-month period in 2004. If an entire year was considered, that could mean that 7.2 million households were affected in a 12-month period.

The cost to business in 2004 was $137 million; in 2006, it was $2.8 billion. The money recovered by consumers dropped from 80 percent in 2004 to 54 percent in 2006.

In the 2004 report, victims spent an average of 330 hours on fixing the issue, but this was only if they had credit cards stolen.

If they had their Social Security number stolen they spent an average of 5,400 hours trying to fix the situation.

A 1998 federal statute made identify theft a separate crime against the person whose identity was stolen, broadened the scope of the offense to include the misuse of information as well as documents and providing punishment — generally, a fine or imprisonment for up to 15 years, or both — even if there is no monetary loss.

Notice it says “misuse” of documents, even if there was no monetary loss. This was signed by then-President Clinton, so he must have thought it was a good thing.

California alone spent more than $12 billion last year (that can actually be documented as attributed directly to illegals), and the number is climbing.

I have immigrants working for me. One did it the right way, one did it the wrong way and later corrected it. Neither one used anyone else’s information to get here or to work. I commend them, and they are great employees.

My own family is made up largely of immigrants, and they also came to this country properly and stole no one’s information.

The blurring of right and wrong in this country is becoming quite alarming.

The very laws that create the environment immigrants seek are being trampled when people come here from other countries illegally.

The freedoms they seek will no longer be available here in America.

Joe Messina is a Saugus resident. His column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal.


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