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Law School Case Brief

State v. Garcia - 306 Kan. 1113, 401 P.3d 588 (2017)


The language in 8 U.S.C.S. § 1324a(b)(5) explicitly prohibits state law enforcement use not only of the I-9 itself but also of the information contained in the I-9 for purposes other than those enumerated.


An local police officer pulled defendant Ramiro Garcia over for speeding. The officer asked Garcia where he was going in such a hurry. Garcia replied that he was on his way to work at restaurant. After contacting the restaurant and obtaining Garcia's W-2 and I-9 documents, it was found that the Social Security number that Garcia had used on the forms belonged to Felisha Munguia of Edinburg, Texas. As a result of the investigation, Garcia was charged with one count of identity theft. Before trial in Kansas state court, Garcia filed a motion to suppress the I-9 form he had filled out during the hiring process, relying on an express preemption provision in the federal Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA). At the hearing on the motion, Garcia noted, and the State agreed, that the State did not intend to rely on the I-9 as a basis of prosecution. Garcia then argued that, because the information contained on the I-9 was transferred to a W-4 form, the W-4 should be suppressed as well. The trial court refused to suppress the W-4, and Garcia was found guilty of identity theft. Garcia appealed, contending that the identity theft prosecution against him was pre-empted by IRCA. The court appeals affirmed the trial court's judgment. The state supreme court granted Garcia's petition for review.


Was the identity theft prosecution against Garcia pre-empted by the IRCA?




The Supreme Court of Kansas reversed the State identity theft conviction because the identity theft prosecution based on the Social Security number contained in the I-9 used to establish Garcia's employment eligibility was expressly preempted under 8 U.S.C.S. § 1324a. According to the court, the states were prohibited from using the I-9 and any information contained within the I-9 as the bases for a state law identity theft prosecution of an alien who used another's Social Security information in an I-9, and the fact that the information was included in the W-4 and K-4 did not alter the fact that it was also part of the I-9.

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