'Undocumented Americans' and the Nation's Data

What does becoming an American citizen entail? One thing it entails is getting a social security card. But a “regular” American -- one born to another American -- might find it difficult to get that document if she were born at home or in the back of a Dodge van, and had hippie parents who didn’t concern themselves with boring matters like registering their kids as American citizens. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Schultz sisters.

As reported in 2011 by Bret Barrouquere for the Associated Press and posted at The Blaze and at the Huffington Post, Raechel and Stephanie Schultz (photo) have led fascinating though unconventional lives:

The earliest years for the Schultz sisters were nomadic. The family traveled through 42 states, never staying too long in one place. Their father found occasional work in construction or at restaurants and the children picked up cans to make a few bucks. They stayed in motels or camped and the sisters’ grandparents sent money to help.

“They didn't have no life plan,” 29-year-old Raechel Schultz said of her parents, now in their 50s. “It was just all like free hippie style, do what you can to get by. Gypsies.”

The Schultz sisters were what one would call “undocumented Americans,” (although that term has been corrupted by the open-borders crew). The sisters did not possess that most basic of American documents: the social security card. But both of their parents had the cards. Indeed, “Raechel held down work at a couple of area restaurants by posing as her mother,” but quit out of fear of being discovered. The sisters needed social security cards to gain legal employment, but the Social Security Administration (or SSA) refused to issue them their cards. So they sued the USA, the SSA, and (for good measure) the Department of State.

The AP followed the Schultz story, and in November of 2011 Barrouquere again reported:

Under Tuesday's agreement, the State Department will issue passport cards to Raechel and Stephanie Schultz, who live in the tiny enclave of Lily. Those cards can be taken to the Social Security Administration, which has agreed to accept the cards as proof of U.S. citizenship and issue Social Security numbers to the women.

Upon receiving the passport cards, the sisters will have five days to apply for Social Security numbers, under the terms of the settlement. […]

On its website, the Social Security Administration lists documents that may be used to prove identity, age and citizenship. The accepted records include a birth certificate, driver's license, state-issued identification card or U.S. passport, and it's not entirely clear why they have been denied. [Links added.]

What’s interesting is that in 2009, after being rejected by the Social Security Administration for lack of proper documentation, the sisters had sued in state court to obtain birth certificates. “Circuit Judge John Knox Mills in 2010 ordered DNA tests to prove the women were born to their parents, then ordered the records issued.” You’d think the birth certificates would be good enough for the federal government. But despite having the blood evidence of DNA, the feds forced the Schultzes to go to federal court to get documents confirming what is rightfully theirs: their “birthright citizenship.”

So the Schultz sisters finally got their SS cards and numbers. But before that happy event did they even exist to the government? Without an SSN, one can’t pay one’s income taxes, get government benefits, nor register to vote. Undocumented Americans can’t open a bank account and they can’t legally work; they’re forced to “live in the shadows” -- rather like illegal aliens.

If this case interests you, know that the Schultz sisters sued in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky, Southern Division London. I’m told that it’s unusual for a settlement to be on file, but this one is; it’s captioned as Schultz, et al. v. USA, et al., Civil Action 11-CV-212. You can use the Pacer system to find the ten-page PDF that outlines the terms of the settlement; the PDF contains four documents whose dates are November 22 and 28, 2011.

I emailed Douglas Benge, attorney for the Schultzes, and asked if suing the feds for damages had been contemplated, given that they had established their citizenship beyond all doubt with DNA. Mr. Benge emailed me back: “No. The girls simply wanted birth certificates and social security cards so they could be able to legally work, obtain drivers' license, and enjoy similar privileges that having an identity allows.”

It would have been interesting to see what kind of defense the government would have put on had a settlement not been reached and the case had gone further. The Settlement Agreement is the third document in the PDF, and on its third page we find “III. No Admission of Wrongdoing,” which seems to be an admission of something.

So the children born to illegal aliens get SSNs without a hitch, while the children of bona fide Americans must sue to get theirs. There just might be some irony in there somewhere.

On May 10, CBS’s "60 Minutes" aired “The Spy Among Us” (video and transcript). It’s the fascinating story of Albrect Dittrich, a KGB agent who came to America and became Jack Barsky. Barsky was treated rather differently by the feds than the Schultz sisters:

Dittrich needed an American identity. And one day a diplomat out of the Soviet embassy in Washington came across this tombstone just outside of D.C. with the name of a 10-year-old boy who had died in 1955. The name was Jack Philip Barsky.

Jack Barsky: And they said, “Guess what? We have a birth certificate. We're going to the U.S.” […]

To get a Social Security card, which he would need if he wanted a real job, Barsky knew he would have to do some acting.

Jack Barsky: It was unusual for a 30-plus-year-old person to, to say, “You know, I don't have a Social Security card. Give me one.” So in order to make my story stick I made my face dirty. So I looked like somebody who just came off a farm. It worked! The lady asked me, she said, “So how come you don't, you don't have a card?” And when the answer was, “I didn't need one.” “Why?” “Well, I worked on a farm.” And that was the end of the interview.

The Social Security card enabled him to enroll at Baruch College in Manhattan, where he majored in computer systems.

Your real identity, who and what you are, is a psychological, philosophical, or religious matter. But as far as the government is concerned, your identity is your SSN, your social security number. I’m reminded of the late 1960s British spy series The Prisoner, which was about a dystopia where names weren’t used, everyone was assigned a number. When the “hero” of the series, played by Patrick McGoohan, is told in the show’s intro that he is Number Six, he protests: “I am not a number, I am a free man!

Considering the ease with which a KGB agent can get an SSN, perhaps the Schultz sisters should regard the ordeal they went through as a badge of honor. But there is no honor in the corruption of the nation’s data.

Just how clean is the SSA’s database? Since SSNs are necessary to legally work, illegal aliens must acquire fraudulent SS cards with fraudulent SSNs. Those bogus SSNs are accepted by the IRS to collect taxes. Do those bogus SSNs end up on other federal databases?

The nation’s data during the Obama administration has been corrupted and stolen. Besides the theft of SSNs, there’s been WikiLeaks, Edward Snowden, and other instances where our data has been compromised. And now we learn that the nation’s number one diplomat for four years operated her own private server, exposing the nation’s data to further theft. This is not only a rap against Mrs. Clinton, but against the Obama administration that should have known and stopped it. The use of a private server alone should be a disqualification from holding any public office. With her mendacious and even flip responses to the media about these issues, Mrs. Clinton has exposed herself as being uniquely unfit to be president.

Like Number Six on ancient British TV, you may object to being a number. But unique IDs, like numbers, are essential to the running of an advanced industrialized nation. We need to start treating such numbers and all the rest of the nation’s data with much more respect and care.

Jon N. Hall is a programmer/analyst from Kansas City. 

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