Kansas v. Garcia, No. 17-834

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtJustice ALITO delivered the opinion of the Court.
Citation140 S.Ct. 791,206 L.Ed.2d 146
Parties KANSAS, Petitioner v. Ramiro GARCIA; Kansas, Petitioner v. Donaldo Morales; Kansas, Petitioner v. Guadalupe Ochoa-Lara
Docket NumberNo. 17-834
Decision Date03 March 2020

140 S.Ct. 791
206 L.Ed.2d 146

KANSAS, Petitioner
v.
Ramiro GARCIA;

Kansas, Petitioner
v.
Donaldo Morales;

Kansas, Petitioner
v.
Guadalupe Ochoa-Lara

No. 17-834

Supreme Court of the United States.

Argued October 16, 2019
Decided March 3, 2020


Derek Schmidt, Attorney General of Kansas, Jeffrey A. Chanay, Chief Deputy Attorney, General, Stephen M. Howe, District Attorney, Johnson County, Kansas, Jacob M. Gontesky, Assistant District Attorney, Toby Crouse, Solicitor General of Kansas, Kristafer Ailslieger, Deputy Solicitor General, Bryan C. Clark, Natalie Chalmers, Dwight R. Carswell, Steven J. Obermeier, Assistant Solicitors General, for petitioner.

Randall L. Hodgkinson, Rick Kittel, Kansas Appellate, Defender Office, Topeka, KS, Rekha Sharma-Crawford, Sharma-Crawford, Attorneys at Law, Kansas City, MO, Paul W. Hughes, Michael B. Kimberly, Sarah P. Hogarth, Andrew A. Lyons-Berg, McDermott Will & Emery LLP, Washington, DC, for respondents.

Justice ALITO delivered the opinion of the Court.

140 S.Ct. 797

Kansas law makes it a crime to commit "identity theft" or engage in fraud to obtain a benefit. Respondents—three aliens who are not authorized to work in this country—were convicted under these provisions for fraudulently using another person's Social Security number on state and federal tax-withholding forms that they submitted when they obtained employment. The Supreme Court of Kansas held that a provision of the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA), 100 Stat. 3359, expressly preempts the Kansas statutes at issue insofar as they provide a basis for these prosecutions. We reject this reading of the provision in question, as well as respondents’ alternative arguments based on implied preemption. We therefore reverse.

I

A

The foundation of our laws on immigration and naturalization is the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), 66 Stat. 163, as amended, 8 U.S.C. § 1101 et seq. , which sets out the " ‘terms and conditions of admission to the country and the subsequent treatment of aliens lawfully in the country.’ " Chamber of Commerce of United States of America v. Whiting , 563 U.S. 582, 587, 131 S.Ct. 1968, 179 L.Ed.2d 1031 (2011). As initially enacted, the INA did not prohibit the employment of illegal aliens, and this Court held that federal law left room for the States to regulate in this field. See De Canas v. Bica , 424 U.S. 351, 353, 96 S.Ct. 933, 47 L.Ed.2d 43 (1976).

With the enactment of IRCA, Congress took a different approach. IRCA made it unlawful to hire an alien knowing that he or she is unauthorized to work in the United States. 8 U.S.C. §§ 1324a(a)(1)(A), (h)(3). To enforce this prohibition, IRCA requires employers to comply with a federal employment verification system. § 1324a(b). Using a federal work-authorization form (I–9), employers "must attest" that they have "verified" that an employee "is not an unauthorized alien" by examining approved documents such as a United States passport or alien registration card. § 1324a(b)(1)(A) ; see also §§ 1324a(b)(1)(B)–(D) ; 8 C.F.R. § 274a.2(a)(2) (2019) (establishing Form I–9). This requirement applies to the hiring of any individual regardless of citizenship or nationality. 8 U.S.C. § 1324a(b)(1). Employers who fail to comply may face civil and criminal sanctions. See §§ 1324a(e)(4), (f) ; 8 C.F.R. § 274a.10. IRCA instructs employers to retain copies of their I–9 forms and allows employers to make copies of the documents submitted by employees to show their authorization to work. 8 U.S.C. §§ 1324a(b)(3)–(4).

IRCA concomitantly imposes duties on all employees, regardless of citizenship. No later than their first day of employment, all employees must complete an I–9 and attest that they fall into a category of persons who are authorized to work in the United States. § 1324a(b)(2) ; 8 C.F.R. § 274a.2(b)(1)(i)(A). In addition, under penalty of perjury, every employee must provide certain personal information—specifically: name, residence address, birth date, Social Security number, e-mail address, and telephone number. It is a federal crime for an employee to provide false

140 S.Ct. 798

information on an I–9 or to use fraudulent documents to show authorization to work. See 18 U.S.C. §§ 1028, 1546. Federal law does not make it a crime for an alien to work without authorization, and this Court has held that state laws criminalizing such conduct are preempted. Arizona v. United States , 567 U.S. 387, 403–407, 132 S.Ct. 2492, 183 L.Ed.2d 351 (2012). But if an alien works illegally, the alien's immigration status may be adversely affected. See 8 U.S.C. §§ 1255(c)(2), (8), 1227(a)(1)(C)(i).

While IRCA imposes these requirements on employers and employees, it also limits the use of I–9 forms. A provision entitled "Limitation on use of attestation form," § 1324a(b)(5), provides that I–9 forms and "any information contained in or appended to such form[s] may not be used for purposes other than for enforcement of " the INA or other specified provisions of federal law, including those prohibiting the making of a false statement in a federal matter ( 18 U.S.C. § 1001 ), identity theft ( § 1028 ), immigration-document fraud ( § 1546 ), and perjury (§ 1621). In addition, 8 U.S.C. § 1324a(d)(2)(F) prohibits use of "the employment verification system" "for law enforcement purposes," apart from the enforcement of the aforementioned federal statutes.

Although IRCA expressly regulates the use of I–9's and documents appended to that form, no provision of IRCA directly addresses the use of other documents, such as federal and state tax-withholding forms, that an employee may complete upon beginning a new job. A federal regulation provides that all employees must furnish their employers with a signed withholding exemption certificate when they start a new job, but federal law apparently does not require the discharge of an employee who fails to do so. See 26 C.F.R. §§ 31.3402(f)(2)–1, (5) – 1 (2019). Instead, the regulation provides that if an employee fails to provide a signed W–4, the employer must treat the employee "as a single person claiming no exemptions." § 31.3402(f )(2)–1(a). The submission of a fraudulent W–4, however, is a federal crime. 26 U.S.C. § 7205.

Kansas uses a tax-withholding form (K–4) that is similar to the federal form. Kan. Stat. Ann. § 79–3298 (2018 Cum. Supp.); Kansas Dept. of Revenue, Notice 07–07: New K–4 Form for State Withholding (Sept. 5, 2007), www.orthodon.com/home/document/KS-WithholdingForm.pdf; Kansas Dept. of Revenue, Kansas Withholding Form K–4, www.ksrevenue.org/k4info.html. Employees must attest to the veracity of the information under penalty of perjury. Form K–4, Kansas Employee's Withholding Allowance Certificate (rev. Nov. 2018), www.ksrevenue.org/pdf/k-4.pdf; Kan. Stat. Ann. § 21–5903 ; see also Kansas Dept. of Revenue, Tax Fraud Enforcement, www.ksrevenue.org/taxfraud.html.

Finally, IRCA contains a provision that expressly "preempt[s] any State or local law imposing civil or criminal sanctions (other than through licensing and similar laws) upon those who employ , or recruit or refer for a fee for employment, unauthorized aliens." 8 U.S.C. § 1324a(h)(2) (emphasis added). This provision makes no mention of state or local laws that impose criminal or civil sanctions on employees or applicants for employment. See ibid.

B

Like other States, Kansas has laws against fraud, forgeries, and identity theft. These statutes apply to citizens and aliens alike and are not limited to conduct that occurs in connection with employment. The Kansas identity-theft statute criminalizes the "using" of any "personal identifying information" belonging to another person with the intent to "[d]efraud that person,

140 S.Ct. 799

or anyone else, in order to receive any benefit." Kan. Stat. Ann. § 21–6107(a)(1). "[P]ersonal identifying information" includes, among other things, a person's name, birth date, driver's license number, and Social Security number. § 21–6107(e)(2). Kansas courts have interpreted the statute to cover the use of another person's Social Security number to receive the benefits of employment. See State v. Meza , 38 Kan.App.2d 245, 247–250, 165 P.3d 298, 301–302 (2007).

Kansas's false-information statute criminalizes, among other things, "making, generating, distributing or drawing" a "written instrument" with knowledge that it "falsely states or represents some material matter" and "with intent to defraud, obstruct the detection of a theft or felony offense or induce official action." § 21–5824.

The respondents in the three cases now before us are aliens who are not authorized to work in this country but nevertheless secured employment by using the identity of other persons on the I–9 forms that they completed when they applied for work. They also used these same false identities when they completed their W–4's and K–4's. All three respondents were convicted under one or both of the Kansas laws just mentioned for fraudulently using another person's Social Security number on tax-withholding forms. We summarize the pertinent facts related to these three prosecutions.

C

Ramiro Garcia . In August 2012, a local patrol officer stopped Garcia for speeding and learned that Garcia had been previously contacted by a financial crimes detective about possible...

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    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Northern District of California
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    ...conflict with the federal law," "the federal law takes precedence and the state law is preempted.’ " Kansas v. Garcia , ––– U.S. ––––, 140 S. Ct. 791, 801, 206 L.Ed.2d 146 (2020) (quoting Murphy v. National Collegiate Athletic Assn. , ––– U.S. ––––, 138 S. Ct. 1461, 1480, 200 L.Ed.2d 854 (2......
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    ...text, federal statute, or treaty made under the authority of the United States. Kansas v. Garcia , ––– U.S. ––––, 140 S. Ct. at 801, 206 L.Ed.2d 146 (2020) (quoting P.R. Dep't of Consumer Affairs v. Isla Petroleum Corp. , 485 U.S. 495, 503, 108 S.Ct. 1350, 99 L.Ed.2d 582 (1988) ) (citing Va......
  • State ex rel. Yost v. Volkswagen Aktiengesellschaft, 2020-0092
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Ohio
    • June 29, 2021
    ...exercise of powers not controverted, must yield to it"). Congress may do so either expressly or impliedly. Kansas v. Garcia, __U.S.__, 140 S.Ct. 791, 801, 206 L.Ed.2d 146 (2020); Girard v. Youngstown Belt Ry. Co., 134 Ohio St.3d 79, 2012-Ohio-5370, 979 N.E.3d 1273, ¶ 14. {¶ 12} When Congres......
  • United States v. Semler, No. 19-2319
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (3rd Circuit)
    • June 1, 2021
    ...that "is flatly contrary to standard English usage" and contradicts our Court's precedent, I respectfully dissent. Kansas v. Garcia, 140 S. Ct. 791, 802 (2020).I As she had done numerous times before, Semler arranged to buy heroin for herself, her sister Sarah, and Werstler. She contacted t......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
63 cases
  • In re Juul Labs, Inc., Mktg., Sales Practices, & Prods. Liab. Litig., Case No. 19-md-02913-WHO
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Northern District of California
    • October 23, 2020
    ...the federal law," "the federal law takes precedence and the state law is preempted.’ " Kansas v. Garcia , ––– U.S. ––––, 140 S. Ct. 791, 801, 206 L.Ed.2d 146 (2020) (quoting Murphy v. National Collegiate Athletic Assn. , ––– U.S. ––––, 138 S. Ct. 1461, 1480, 200 L.Ed.2d 854 (......
  • GEO Grp., Inc. v. Newsom, Case No.: 19-CV-2491 JLS (WVG)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Court (Southern District of California)
    • October 8, 2020
    ...text, federal statute, or treaty made under the authority of the United States. Kansas v. Garcia , ––– U.S. ––––, 140 S. Ct. at 801, 206 L.Ed.2d 146 (2020) (quoting P.R. Dep't of Consumer Affairs v. Isla Petroleum Corp. , 485 U.S. 495, 503, 108 S.Ct. 1350, 99 L.Ed.2d 582 (1988) ) (citing Va......
  • State ex rel. Yost v. Volkswagen Aktiengesellschaft, 2020-0092
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Ohio
    • June 29, 2021
    ...of powers not controverted, must yield to it"). Congress may do so either expressly or impliedly. Kansas v. Garcia, __U.S.__, 140 S.Ct. 791, 801, 206 L.Ed.2d 146 (2020); Girard v. Youngstown Belt Ry. Co., 134 Ohio St.3d 79, 2012-Ohio-5370, 979 N.E.3d 1273, ¶ 14. {¶ 12} When Congress ex......
  • United States v. Semler, No. 19-2319
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (3rd Circuit)
    • June 1, 2021
    ..."is flatly contrary to standard English usage" and contradicts our Court's precedent, I respectfully dissent. Kansas v. Garcia, 140 S. Ct. 791, 802 (2020).I As she had done numerous times before, Semler arranged to buy heroin for herself, her sister Sarah, and Werstler. She contac......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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