Thursday, August 16, 2007

DHS "No Match" Rule a Detrimental Setback for the Nation's Workers

On August 13th the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published its final rule specifying an employer's legal obligations when the employer receives a letter from the Social Security Administration (SSA) stating that the information submitted for an employee on W-2 Forms do not match SSA records(commonly referred to as an SSA "no-match" letter).

The new rule, which becomes effective 30 days after publication, outlines "safe harbor" procedures that employers should follow in order to avoid liability under U.S. immigration laws.

"We are worried with this new development. We already know of several work sites in our area who are indiscriminately telling workers they will lose their jobs. This does nothing but worsen the already difficult existence of many of these workers and their families" comments Martin Cuevas, staff member of AFSC's Proyecto Campesino in Visalia, California.

Previously, the purpose of the SSA no-match letter was to inform employees that they would not receive credit for their earnings, which can affect SSA benefits. The new rule changes the SSA no-match letter from an administrative notice into a tool for DHS to identify undocumented workers in the United States. In the past, however, there have been errors and incorrect information the "no match" letters.

>For more information visit the National Immigration Law Center's "SSA No Match" webpage.

Under the new regulation,
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) can use an employer's receipt of a "no-match" letter as evidence that the employer has "constructive knowledge" that the employee is unauthorized to work in the United States. If the employer does not resolve the discrepancy within 90 days the employer must fire the employee or the employer will face criminal liability.

Farmworkers, farmers, and growers associations agree that the rule could disastrously impact America's farms resulting in lost jobs and in thousands of lost crops. "There's always more pressure on the immigrant community," said Gerardo Reyes, a farm worker from Immokalee, Florida. "We're making sure food gets to everyone's tables," he said. (Fresno Bee)

Action Step: >Email your Senators today to call for workable solutions that keep immigrant families together and provide a path to citizenship for all who have built a life here.