FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 1, 2007
Lauren Mendoza, AFL-CIO, (202) 637-5212
Maria Archuleta, ACLU, (212) 519-7808 or 549-2666
Stella Richardson, ACLU-NC , (415) 621-2493
Marielena Hincapié, NILC , (415) 845-3403
SAN FRANCISCO - After a hearing today, a federal judge extended for 10 days an order that temporarily stops the government from implementing a new Department of Homeland Security (DHS) rule that would cause U.S. citizens and other authorized workers to lose their jobs, and which would illegally use error-prone social security records as a tool for immigration enforcement. The judge's order also stops the Social Security Administration(SSA) from beginning to send notices to approximately 140,000 employers across the country notifying them of the new rule, which would impact approximately eight million workers.
"We are pleased that the judge saw the need to continue to block this rule that would lead to increased exploitation of workers," said John Sweeney, President of the AFL-CIO. "More than 70% of SSA discrepancies refer to U.S. citizens but the DHS regulation would encourage employers to fire any worker based on these erroneous discrepancies, especially if she has an accent or is perceived to be foreign born."
Today's extension of the temporary restraining order comes as a result of a lawsuit filed in August by the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Immigration Law Center (NILC) and the Central Labor Council of Alameda County along with other local labor movements. In the lawsuit, the groups charge that the misguided rule violates the law and workers' rights, imposes burdensome obligations on employers, and will cause discrimination against workers who are perceived to be immigrants.
For years the SSA has sent "no match" letters to employers if the name and social security information reported by a worker on a W-2 form does not match up with the information contained in SSA databases. The "no match" letters were never considered reason to believe that an employee did not have permission to work in the U.S, and currently employers who receive "no-match" letters are not required to take any action. In fact, there are many innocent reasons for such discrepancies such as clerical mistakes, name changes due to marriage and divorce, and the use of multiple surnames that are common in many parts of the world.
Under the new DHS rule, employers receiving "no match" letters might be required to fire employees whose SSA discrepancies 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 the employer had "constructive knowledge" that an employee was not authorized to work in the U.S. and prosecute the employer accordingly.
Today's extension was handed down in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California.
In addition to the AFL-CIO, which is represented by the law firm of Altshuler Berzon LLP, other parties bringing the lawsuit include the Central Labor Council of Alameda County, represented by the ACLU, the ACLU of Northern California, and NILC, as well as the San Francisco Labor Council and the San Francisco Building and Construction Trades Council, represented by Weinberg, Roger and Rosenfeld.
Lawyers on the case include Scott A. Kronland, Stephen Berzon, Jonathan Weissglass, Linda Lye and Danielle Leonard of Altshuler Berzon LLP; Jonathan Hiatt, James Coppess and Ana Avendaño of the AFL-CIO; Lucas Guttentag, Jennifer Chang, Mónica M. Ramírez and Omar Jadwat of the ACLU Immigrants' Rights Project; Alan Schlosser and Julia Mass of the ACLU of Northern California; Marielena Hincapié, Linton Joaquin and Monica Guizar of NILC; and David Rosenfeld and Manjari Chawla of Weinberg, Roger and Rosenfeld.
The complaint, a complete list of plaintiffs, and other information about the lawsuit can be found at: www.aclu.org/nomatch