Via CNS News:
(CNSNews.com) – The question of whether to legalize illegal aliens and put them on a pathway to citizenship may be the most controversial legislative issue facing the U.S. Congress this year.
But, according to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA), seventeen years have already passed since the Internal Revenue Service made its own “policy decision” to “’legalize’ illegal aliens.”
That policy, made those many years ago, not only determined that the IRS would treat illegal aliens the same as legal immigrants and U.S. citizens, but also that the IRS would not hand over to federal immigration authorities information about employers who appeared to be hiring large numbers of illegal aliens and about illegal aliens who filed false documents with the IRS.
The story starts in 1996, when Democrat Bill Clinton was president, and the Republicans controlled Congress.
On May 2, 1996, the Senate voted 97 to 3 to approve the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigration Responsibility Act. This vote inspired Sen. Ted Kennedy to go down to the Senate floor and proudly proclaim that the Senate had taken bipartisan action to stop illegal immigration and protect American workers.
“This legislation, I think,” said Kennedy, “will be extremely important and, I believe, effective in stemming the tide of illegals, not just because of the expansion of the border patrols, although that will have some effect, and not just because of the increased penalties in smuggling, as all that will have an effect; it will have an important impact in helping American workers get jobs and be able to hold them and have the enhanced opportunity for employment.”
Four months later, on Sept. 25, 1996, a House led by Speaker Newt Gingrich approved the bill 305 to 123. President Clinton signed it on Sept. 30, 1996.
Section 642 of this law said that no other law or official could bar any agency or official from providing information about illegal aliens to the Immigration and Naturalization Service–the agency then responsible for enforcing immigration law.
“Notwithstanding any other provision of federal, state, or local law, a federal, state, or local government entity or official may not prohibit, or in any way restrict, any government entity or official from sending to, or receiving from, the Immigration and Naturalization Service information regarding the citizenship or immigration status, lawful or unlawful, of any individual,” said the law.
“Notwithstanding any other provision of federal, state, or local law,” it said, “no person or agency may prohibit, or in any way restrict, a federal, state, or local government entity from doing any of the following with respect to information regarding the immigration status, lawful or unlawful, of any individual: (1) Sending such information to, or requesting or receiving such information from, the Immigration and Naturalization Service. (2) Maintaining such information. (3) Exchanging such information with any other federal, state, or local government entity.”
On May 29, 1996—after this bill passed the Senate but before it passed the House—the IRS issued a regulation that contradicted it.
This regulation said the IRS would grant what it called Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ITINs) to aliens who did not qualify to work in the United States and did not qualify for Social Security Numbers. The IRS had three basic requirements for people receiving these numbers: 1) they had to be an alien, 2) they could not be qualified to work in the United States or have a Social Security Number, and 3) they owed taxes in the United States.
In issuing this regulation, the IRS said Section 6103 of the Internal Revenue Code would apply to the aliens it granted these ITINs. Section 6103 says the IRS must keep tax information confidential and, with a few exceptions, may not share that information with other government agencies.
In September 1999, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, which has oversight over the IRS, published an audit report on the ITIN regulation. It was titled, “The Internal Revenue Service’s Individual Taxpayer Identification Number Program Was Not Implemented in Accordance with Internal Revenue Code Regulations.”
The IG pointed out that the IRS’s claim that it could issue ITINs to illegal aliens and then decline to provide information about those illegal aliens to the federal immigration enforcement agency—then called the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS)–contradicted the terms of the 1996 immigration reform law.