A Homeland Security rule, set to go into effect Sept. 14, is being challenged by labor rights and civil rights groups. At issue is the extension of the "no-match letter based on SSA records, to require the firing of any employee whose data is flagged.
"No-match" letters inform an employer of discrepancies between an employee's job records and the Social Security Administration database. "According to the Office of the Inspector General in SSA, 12.7 million of the 17.8 million discrepancies in SSA's database – more than 70% – belong to native-born US citizens." Starting September 4, letters will be sent to some 140,000 employers, which will affect eight million workers.
There are many reasons for the discrepancies, including innocent ones such as name changes in the case of marriage or divorce. Some are a result of typographical errors by SSA employees. People may not even know that there is a discrepancy, and will discover it only when they are notified by their employer. The employee must be given 90 days to resolve the problem, or be fired under the new rule.
The suit against the Department of Homeland Security rule was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. Some of the groups included in the suit are The AFL-CIO, the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Immigration Law Center and the Central Labor Council of Alameda County.
Supposedly, the ruling is one more weapon in the struggle against illegal aliens in the workplace. Marielena Hincapié, who is the Staff Attorney and Director of Programs at NILC, said that that it is an unreasonable burden on employers, and will give them more power over their workers. "And we know from years of experience in dealing with 'no-match' letters that unscrupulous employers will use the new rule to legitimize their adverse employment actions against workers exercising their labor rights."
John Sweeney, President of the AFL-CIO, called the rule "a new tool to repress workers' rights in the name of phony immigration enforcement." Workers with wage disputes, who've been injured on the job, who report hazards, or who join union organizing efforts are potential targets for employers who will now find it easier to get rid of troublemakers.
The recent announcement that green cards without expiration dates will be cancelled will increase the bureaucratic tangles that workers will have to go through, and almost guarantee that many won't be able to satisfy all the DHS rules in time to avoid either deportation or being fired from their jobs. .