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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

“No-Match” Letters Still Bad for Workers, Employers, and the Economy

March 26, 2008

Erik Sorensen, Communications, CAUSA (503) 488-0263
Aeryca Steinbauer, Coordinator, CAUSA (503) 984-6816

“No-Match” Letters Still Bad for Workers, Employers, and the Economy

Salem, OR— Last fall after a court stopped the No Match plan stating it would hurt legal workers, the Department of Homeland Security said it would review its plan. Today, DHS reissued its 2007 Social Security Administration (SSA) no-match rule and a supplemental regulation in the Federal Register with only minor cosmetic changes that do not begin to address the court's concerns.

SSA no-match letters' purpose is to correct discrepancies in SSA's records that prevent workers from receiving credit for their earnings. The letters are not and have never been an immigration-enforcement tool, and they are ill-suited to that purpose. While undocumented workers are among the millions of workers who receive no-match letters each year, many legal workers - including U.S. citizens - receive letters because of clerical errors, unreported name changes, and other discrepancies in their records.

The rule is bad for the economy and is certain to cause massive layoffs of employment-authorized workers and U.S. citizens”, said Aeryca Steinbauer, Coordinator with CAUSA. “There are many factors that may trigger a no-match letter, including misspelled names, name changes, and database errors. Employers can easily dismiss employees, regardless of their legal status, because of a flawed system, and errors in the system create a cloud of suspicion between business and its workers.”

According to the Office of the Inspector General at SSA, 17.8 million discrepancies in the SSA database that could result in a no-match letter, 12.7 million (or over 70 percent) pertain to native-born U.S. citizens. In addition The Government Accountability Office (GAO) testified before Congress that the SSA database that generates no-match letters contains “hundreds of millions of records, many unrelated to unauthorized work,” and that “in terms of poor earnings reporting, its focus is not on unauthorized workers.”

There are fundamental problems with this rule,” said Jeff Stone, Government Relations director at the Oregon Association of Nurseries. “With such a large number of foreign-born workers contributing to the economy, the productivity in many sectors would be significantly reduced without them.” The nursery group represents the state’s largest sector of agriculture with 2,100 businesses and more than $1 billion in annual sales. Nurseries are a key generator of revenue for Oregon, with more than 75 percent of its product exported outside the state. “We are urging Congress to adopt reform that allows these valued workers a legal way to support our economy,” he said.

The public will have until April 25, 2008, to comment on the rule. Comments can be submitted at DHS’s website at: or by calling 202-282-8495.

CAUSA is Oregon’s statewide, grassroots immigrant rights coalition. We work to defend and advance immigrant rights through coordination with local, state, and national coalitions and allies.


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