Court Extends Order That Blocks Government From Implementing Flawed Social Security No Match Rule

October 1, 2007 12:00 am

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SAN FRANCISCO – After a hearing today, a federal judge extended anorder that temporarily stops the government from implementing a newDepartment of Homeland Security (DHS) rule that would cause U.S.citizens and other authorized workers to lose their jobs, and whichwould illegally use error-prone social security records as a tool forimmigration enforcement. The judge’s order also stops the SocialSecurity Administration (SSA) from beginning to send notices toapproximately 140,000 employers across the country notifying them ofthe new rule, which would impact approximately eight million workers.The temporary restraining order is not to exceed ten days.

“We are pleased that the judge saw the need to continue to block thisrule that would lead to increased exploitation of workers,”said John Sweeney, President of the American Federation of Labor andCongress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO). “More than70% of SSA discrepancies refer to U.S. citizens but the DHS regulationwould encourage employers to fire any worker based on these erroneousdiscrepancies, especially if she has an accent or is perceived to beforeign born.”

Today’s order comes as a result of a lawsuit filed in Augustby the AFL-CIO, the American Civil Liberties Union, the NationalImmigration Law Center (NILC) and the Central Labor Council of AlamedaCounty along with other local labor movements. In the lawsuit, thegroups charge that the misguided rule violates the law and workers’rights, imposes burdensome obligations on employers, and will causediscrimination against workers who are perceived to be immigrants.

For years the SSA has sent “no match” letters toemployers if the name and social security information reported by aworker on a W-2 form does not match up with the information containedin SSA databases. The “no match” letters were neverconsidered reason to believe that an employee did not have permissionto work in the U.S, and currently employers who receive “no match”letters are not required to take any action. In fact, there are manyinnocent reasons for such discrepancies such as clerical mistakes, namechanges due to marriage and divorce, and the use of multiple surnamesthat are common in many parts of the world.

Under the new DHS rule, employers receiving “nomatch” letters might be required to fire employees whose SSAdiscrepancies are not resolved within 90 days after the “no match”letter is received. If the employer does not respond to a“no match” letter, DHS may conclude that theemployer had “constructive knowledge” that anemployee was not authorized to work in the U.S. and prosecute theemployer accordingly.

Today’s order was handed down in the United States District Court forthe Northern District of California.

In addition to the AFL-CIO, which is represented by the law firm ofAltshuler Berzon LLP, other parties bringing the lawsuit include theCentral Labor Council of Alameda County, represented by the ACLU, theACLU of Northern California, and NILC, as well as the San FranciscoLabor Council and the San Francisco Building and Construction TradesCouncil, represented by Weinberg, Roger and Rosenfeld.

Lawyers on the case include Scott A. Kronland, Stephen Berzon, JonathanWeissglass, Linda Lye and Danielle Leonard of Altshuler Berzon LLP;Jonathan Hiatt, James Coppess and Ana Avendaño of theAFL-CIO; Lucas Guttentag, Jennifer Chang, Mónica M.Ramírez and Omar Jadwat of the ACLU Immigrants’ RightsProject; Alan Schlosser and Julia Mass of the ACLU of NorthernCalifornia; Marielena Hincapié, Linton Joaquin and MonicaGuizar of NILC; and David Rosenfeld and Manjari Chawla of Weinberg,Roger and Rosenfeld.

The complaint, a complete list of plaintiffs, and other informationabout the lawsuit can be found at: www.aclu.org/nomatch


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