Let me pause here to underscore a point. Currently, the original SSN holder never receives notice when a mismatch has occurred. And, quite frankly, I do not have the assurances that the IRS is requiring much of the employer to correct or verify the submission. That is not acceptable. In this day and age, when at a click of a mouse, someone can apply for credit cards, mortgages, or even car loans, there is no excuse why SSN holders are left in the dark.
One can only imagine that if this simple notification step was taken in the case of little Tyler Lybbert or the Noble family that years of laborious efforts and countless hours of notifying credit bureaus, banks, and other authorities, could have been greatly reduced if not avoided all together.
To make matters more confusing in this area of the law, the Supreme Court has more or less tied the hands of prosecutors in going after these thieves and those who involved in so-called document mills. The case of Flores-Figueroa v. United States undermined prosecutors' longstanding practice of using the aggravated identity theft statute by requiring them to also prove that a defendant knew that he or she was using a real person's identity information, as opposed to counterfeit information not connected to an actual person.
To clarify the Criminal Code and provide our prosecutors with the latitude they need to pursue these cases, my bill makes clear that defendants who possess or otherwise use identity information not their own, without lawful authority, and in the commission of another felony is still punishable for aggravated identity fraud, regardless of the defendants' "knowledge" of the victim.
Finally, my bill's identity theft would require the Secretary of the Treasury, the Chairman of the FTC, and the Commissioner of Social Security to conduct a study to determine the most feasible and cost-effective ways to protect the credit worthiness of individuals, especially that of children.
Mexican Cartel drug violence has been placed front and center by the media and members of this body. Some of my fellow colleagues have called for more resources directed to this problem. As additional federal law enforcement personnel and military units continue to be deployed to the southwest border the focus has been on weapons, drug interdiction and bulk cash smuggling. While I recognize the importance of these border enforcement activities, too little attention is being paid to outdoor marijuana cultivation by Mexican drug trafficking organizations.
Outdoor marijuana cultivation by Mexican drug trafficking organizations is causing increasing environmental damage, especially on publicly owned lands. From 2004-2009 more than 11 million marijuana plants have been eradicated from federal public lands. Outdoor marijuana cultivation is the chief source of revenue for Mexican drug trafficking organizations.
Growing marijuana in the U.S. saves traffickers the risk and expense of smuggling their product across the border and allows gangs to produce their crops closer to local markets. Illegal alien workers are smuggled in from Mexico to serve as laborers and provide security to the grow plots. Mexican gang plots can often be distinguished from those of domestic-based growers based on their plant volume and security measures. Many of the plots are encircled with crude explosives and are patrolled by armed illegal aliens providing security for the crop.
In my home state of Utah, the Drug Enforcement Administration and local law enforcement have seized more than 110,000 marijuana plants this year. Each plant can yield one pound of marijuana with a street value of $1,000. These remote plots were on federal land and nestled under the cover in a national forest or hidden high in the rugged-yet-fertile tracts of federal land. All of the sites were far from the eyes of law enforcement, where growers can take the time needed to grow far more potent marijuana. Growers of these fields have even created irrigation systems to disrupt or divert water sources. They even use illegal fertilizers that damage the environment and the local eco-system.
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