Why Do Illegal Workers Have Valid SSNs?

One criticism of the government’s E-Verify system is that it is flawed by the fact that many illegal workers are verified by the system as eligible to work. That is not, of course, an argument against the expansion of E-Verify from its current status as a temporary voluntary system to a mandatory requirement for all employers as proposed in H.R. 1772. There is no logic to saying that because some illegal workers are not denied jobs there should be no effort at all to deny jobs to illegal workers.

Instead, the recognition that there is a ‘false positive’ problem in the implementation of the E-Verify system should lead to a focus on what can be done to lessen the problem.

False employment approvals by the E-Verify system result when the name and date of birth of the new hire match the information in the Social Security database recorded when the SSN was issued. That match-up, however, does not necessarily mean that person is legally entitled to work at the time the E-Verify system is accessed. Here are some of the reasons:

  • At one time, all that was necessary for the SSA to issue an SSN was a letter from a state DMV stating that a driver’s license applicant needed an SSN in order to be able to obtain a D/L. That practice was discontinued, but not until probably millions of illegal aliens received legitimate SSNs.
  • Foreign students are entitled to take campus jobs and summer jobs, and that requires that they have an SSN. They also are eligible to take Optional Practical Training jobs. They then may illegally apply for a full-time job and satisfy the E-Verify check with the SSN that they were issued.
  • There is a black market in stolen SSNs for sale to illegal aliens seeking a job where an employer uses the current E-Verify system. There was a recent study that found 6.5 million persons with valid SSNs over age 112. Nearly 70,000 of them reported wages to the SSA between 2006 and 2011. It is a safe bet that all of those cases resulted from the fraudulent use for employment of the SSN of someone deceased. Most likely the fraudulent use was by an illegal worker.
  • Illegal aliens given Temporary Protected Status are given SSNs. So are DACA status recipients. Those who lose legal protection still have the SSN.

These circumstances indicate the need to have temporary SSNs for any applicant who is not a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident. The time limit should coincide with the period for which a job is authorized. Similarly, the SSA needs to eliminate the SSNs of deceased persons from the list of work authorized individuals. Finally, there needs to be some aggressive prosecution of persons stealing SSNs. That is a crime and there are victims, and as long as the crime is ignored, the practice will proliferate.


About Author


Jack, who joined FAIR’s National Board of Advisors in 2017, is a retired U.S. diplomat with consular experience. He has testified before the U.S. Congress, U.S. Civil Rights Commission, and U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform and has authored studies of immigration issues. His national and international print, TV, and talk radio experience is extensive (including in Spanish).


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  2. avatar

    CA recently decided to give driver’s licenses to illegals. However, they stopped doing background checks on Identity Theft because it was so rampant.

    • avatar

      They are using the ssan of DECEASED people. The social security commission is NOT doing due diligence!! Expand Everify, make it permanent, and make it MANDITORY! No jobs, no apts, no benefits, they will self deport!!! Rewrite the anchor baby law so that it doesn’t automatically make a baby born to illegal parents a citizen!

  3. avatar

    See previous post.

    You guys are all still focusing on attacking the law abiding to make it hard on illegals. Attempts to institute a national ID are simply one more major step towards Fascism in the US. Why should legal Americans have to carry an ID of any type? The US has never had any laws mandating that citizens carry an ID, not to mention a national ID. Those sort of laws are for the Germans, Russians, and North Koreans; not for America.

    I’m against eVerify not because it is difficult to implement but because it places the onus on citizens to do the governments job. It should not be illegal for an employer to hire an illegal alien. It SHOULD be illegal for the illegal alien to take a job offered by an employer. Our current enforcement is akin to arresting the bank manager for allowing a bank robber to come into his bank to steal his money and then letting the bank robber go since he is simply a victim of a predatory banker.

    We can eliminate all American freedoms and turn the US into a model of North Korea and the only reason it will cut down on illegal immigration is because the illegals won’t want to live in such a horrid fascist place. Attacking the victims is not the answer. We need to start considering illegal immigration itself to be a crime and working in the US to be a larger crime. Only when the penalty for violating the law is significant and the probability of being caught is high will we be able to eliminate illegal immigration.

    • avatar

      Answer this question. If you don’t provide an employer with a SS number NOW, do you get the job? No, you don’t, because the government has to be aware of your working status and how much you are earning because the employer is going to have to match the social security tax taken out of your paycheck and both amounts go to the federal government. It’s been that way since the inception of the system back in the 30s. There is not one additional bit of information that would be disclosed through e-verify.

      And who exactly is this “victim” being attacked?

    • avatar

      “I’m against eVerify not because it is difficult to implement but because it places the onus on citizens to do the governments job. It should not be illegal for an employer to hire an illegal alien. It SHOULD be illegal for the illegal alien to take a job offered by an employer.”

      By this logic, it should be legal for a liquor store to sell alcohol to a sixteen year old, but illegal for the kid to buy it because the onus should not be placed on citizens to do the governments job. Both employers and illegals need to be punished in order to get control of our borders and save our country, and the punishment should be jail time and fines for both parties.

    • avatar

      I’m against people using illegal drugs….but that hasn’t stopped YOU. `Cauz ANYBODY that makes a comment like you’ve made…..is most CERTAINLY on drugs.

    • avatar

      “it shouldn’t be illegal for an employer to hire an illegal??? An employer is required to do a background check on you when you hire in as a LEGAL American, why not an illegal? cut off all possible types of support to these people and they will self deport! Everify will determine if the persons ssan is legal or possibly a deceased person, it would also check to see if the ssan is being used in another state a couple of hundred miles away. I’m all for it! I have friends that came here from Mexico LEGALLY and they say the same thing. Why should the illegals get to come here and demand things while legal immigrants came here through proper channels?

  4. avatar

    I’m very much against allowing illegal aliens to work; however, the push to address illegal immigration has given the government cover to turn the US into a Fascist nation. It wasn’t many years ago that you could open an account at any bank simply by walking into the branch and filling out a few forms. Now, it’s necessary to have a social security number and produce ID. The feds have even taken this overseas by forcing Americans opening banks overseas to report the account information of Americans to the US IRS.

    Laws restricting employment of illegal aliens turn every employer in the US into an agent of the iNS. Why should private individuals be forced to enforce immigration law? That is the job of the federal government. Why doesn’t the federal government focus it’s enforcement efforts on the criminals violating the law (illegal aliens) rather than the victim of their crime (the employers)?

    Illegal immigration could be stopped overnight with a few commonsense actions:
    1. Strict laws and significant penalties targeting illegal aliens that work. There should be jail time and seizure of the ill gotten gains.
    2. Employers should be incentivized to report illegal aliens. Criminals are not entitled to the keep money they steal. Employers should not be required to pay illegal aliens for work performed. The INS should pay a bounty to employers who report illegal aliens who use fake ID to take a job. This would vastly increase the number of illegal aliens caught by the iNS.

    It isn’t necessary to catch every illegal alien who works illegally in the US. If employers were incentivized to report illegal workers and being caught meant significant jail time followed by mandatory deportation it would become much too risky for illegals to attempt to work in the US. Very few illegals would take the chance and most who attempted would be caught.

    3. The practice of granting citizenship to children of illegal aliens who are born in the US needs to be stopped. This would eliminate the incentive for illegals to come to the US solely to have children who can then be used to allow the parents to stay in the US.

    These three reforms alone would result in a massive self-deportation of almost all illegal aliens in the US since without the incentive to work and make money few illegal aliens would want to stay in the US.

    The current enforcement situation targets legal residents of the US and restricts long cherished freedoms. It creates a Fascist government that targets innocent Americans in order to combat the actions of criminals who flaunt our immigration laws. Current enforcement is akin to the analogy of herding cats or pushing rope. It just doesn’t work effectively.

    • avatar

      The task of requiring employers to run potential hires through e-verify can hardly be considered an onerous task.

    • avatar

      If employers want the benefit of someone working for them, they should at least be willing to check if it’s legal for the employee to work for them. If employers would stop hiring people that aren’t supposed to be working in the U.S. there would be less incentive for people to come to the USA.

    • avatar

      Get real. In SF church groups function as employment centers to provide businesses/employers with cheap labor. The illegals are paid under the table. The state and federal labor departments are supposed to be policing employers. Are they doing it? Obviously not since no one is apprehended. As for the use of SSNs belonging to dead people…well, just look at Obama using the SSN of the dead French immigrant. Media have queried SSA for years and the WH and they still don’t have an explanation of how that happened. Simple: there is corruption everywhere! I had an aunt who investigate this stuff for more than 30 years. She could not make a dent.

    • avatar

      Rick, I’m 64 years old and have had a savings account for MANY years. I had to show ID to open it and I have to show ID to take it out. this is leading right back to the voting ID law. They have to show ID to cash a check, sign up for welfare, buy booze, yet they are going to bit(h about having to show one to vote??? it’ll “disenfranchise” the lower income voter?!?!? Doesn’t disenfranchise them from collecting welfare!!!

  5. avatar

    Bill Webb above is right on target. All of this illegal alien scam, that is allowed to go on and on and is now actively and energetically pushed and sanctioned by O-Zero and all other active racists in government, is, well, illegal. We all know O-Zero has made the situation worse by an order of magnitude, and isufferable, and conservatively speaking he should be impeached for abuse of power, power not given to him by the Constitution. Oh yeah, we can argue about that but in our heart of hearts we know Obama is breaking his oath of office in immigration and many other matters, daily, starting back with Solyndra. In years gone by O-Zero would be gone, but he’s half black so he gets something like an affirmative action free pass here, PLUS consider the worthless louts we have in congress, in both parties. Congress is now a criminal undertaking. Protecting citizens comes way down their list of priorities. Even the Supreme Court is politicized to the point of absurdity. Webb is right, if younger people want a country left in 20 years they had better pay attention. What O-Zero is doing is deliberate. He is getting up each morning trying to get one more America bashing illegal act in before he goes golfing, or jetting around in that plane we gave him. We are at a nadir in our history. It’ll take 25 years to reverse the damages O-Zero has inflicted (with Holder and other water carrying traitors). It is very very bad and our sheeple do not seem to grasp what is going on.

  6. avatar

    No one in the federal government is going to stand up and try and get this SNAFU fixed. It seems no one cares that there are 20 million illegal aliens? in the US. Europe has the same problem. The North African boat people keep showing up by the thousands. I’m a retired senior citizen and I won’t be around long enough to have to worry about it, but you younger people had better do something. Is this the supposed New World Order? Overpopulation trumps all?

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  8. avatar

    It is time to issue new type of ID. Congress should establish a committee to correlate current Drivers License, SS#, and IRS record to select only those who fulfill each category with a signature required before issue.

  9. avatar

    Anyone knows it’s a free pass for illegals to use a stolen SS number. In fact, a lot of people want to reward them with permanent residency. They want to give one of the most prized possessions on the face of this planet to those who have committed a whole series of illegal acts. Including the identity fraud and illegal use of government assistance they were never supposed to get under law. But other than the fact that their daily presence here is one fraud after another, they will be solid citizens?

    • avatar

      Leland…….that is not a reward…I hope you are born an Illegal and live their reality……

      • avatar

        I respect the law of this country and others. I have been to the Bahamas and Jamaica and have left when I was supposed to, by the date specified. And if you don’t leave, they will remove you, not reward you for breaking their laws. And I agree with that. You think the law is optional.

        • avatar

          Leland even though you are a blue collar guy and a poor one in the US like many of us………your life style and upbringing is royalty compared to the illegals…..most of them………you have no idea or GRASP at all their situation….you just move your lips like the guys in Washington…….or like the President said in the late show…75% of Congress is stall, they don’t care…big money…..

          For the Congress guys you and I are the illegals,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

          • avatar

            I’m not poor. And I don’t know what anything you said has to do with obeying the law. As for what “the president said in the late show”, don’t worry he will say the opposite in a few months, depending on what group he’s talking to. And suckers like you buy every word.

          • avatar

            Leland no need to get defensive….but really..the sucker here is YOU….do you know why? because it is only you in this country who believes the majority of Congress is working hard….you are such a naive monkey….reading and believing what you read……………do some soul searching…….may be you will wake up…..

    • avatar

      We are the idiots for permitted him to run for the highest office in the land, knowing that he did not qualify in the first place. LORD, HAVE MERCY ON OUR SOULS.

      • avatar

        The Lord has nothing to do with this IF ANY HE would be on the side of the illegals……may be about time you find a different Lord……………… you need to understand that the president alone does not solve an issue or creates a situation….this has been going on for years………….

  10. avatar
    Diana Reichardt on

    I would also like to know what would stop these illegal people from voting if they have social security cards???? The way this has been handled is ALL WRONG!!

    • avatar

      Diana leave your house, do not stay isolated mentally & physically…get to know the World……burst your bubble……….no illegals vote with SS…………………..our own do that………..