Here’s how. A recent Homeland Security Committee hearing on immigration revealed an alarming consequence of President Obama’s executive amnesty—that illegal immigrants with deferred status may be able to receive the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). Moreover, this person, who is here in the U.S. unlawfully, could be able to file an amended tax return for up to the last three tax years, possibly receiving upwards of $24,000 in tax credits.

The discovery was made by Eileen J. O’Connor, a tax lawyer and the former head of the tax division of the United States Department of Justice, who used her congressional testimony in front of the Senate Homeland Security Committee to explain it. “The law makes a social security number a requirement of eligibility to receive the earned income credit,” O’Connor explained.

“But in 1999, the Chief Counsel’s office of IRS ruled (in a non-binding, non-precedential way, but no one but the IRS pays attention to those disclaimers) that when a person receives a social security number, he can file amended returns to claim the credit for the three preceding years during which he did not. The logic is puzzling: the credit is not available if you don’t have a social security number, but you can receive it retroactively for years during which you did not qualify for it because you didn’t have a social security number.”