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Friday, October 24, 2008

DHS Undermines Economic Security with No-Match Rule

The following release comes from our partners at the National Immigration Forum. The National Immigration Forum, founded in 1982, is the nation’s premier immigrant rights organization. The Forum advocates and builds public support for public policies that welcome immigrants and refugees and are fair to and supportive of newcomers to our country. For more information, visit their website at:

DHS Undermines Economic Security with No-Match Rule

Washington, DC - Today, DHS issued a final administrative rule notifying employers that failure to take action upon receipt of Social Security Administration "no-match" letters will serve as constructive notice that an employer had hired an employee who was an undocumented immigrant. These "no-match" letters are in fact wage report letters issued by the Social Security Administration that are designed to identify possible record-keeping errors and other problems associated with matching wages to Social Security numbers. The following is a statement from Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum.

While Congress holds hearings on Wall Street's financial crisis and the Bush administration's response, and the Department of Labor releases unemployment statistics confirming the pain of a slow down in the economy, the Department of Homeland Security continues to march to the beat of its own deportation-only drum. While the country focuses on a severe credit crisis, the lack of health insurance crisis and a looming recession, DHS's action effectively pours salt onto a wound widening everyday. To burden good employers with mounds of enforcement-laden paperwork based on bad data stifles an economy struggling to survive.

Today's release of a final administrative rule regarding "no-match" letters is opposed from all corners of our economy. The so called "no-match" rule turns an advisory letter issued by the Social Security Administration - designed to ensure that individuals paying into the Social Security system are properly credited for their work - into a tool for tracking down undocumented workers. While employers should certainly take steps to correct discrepancies, the no-match rule will not seriously address the problems of illegal immigration.

Inaccurate databases, human error, and failure to report name changes can all contribute to the "no-match" problem, but this new rule is likely to turn all no-match letters into scarlet letters, leading to unnecessary dismissals and possible discriminatory hiring practices. Given our country's rapidly unraveling economy, measures that further weaken businesses and threaten the economic security of our nation and of legitimate workers - native and immigrant worker alike - is bad public policy.

The Bush administration is determined to continue the drumbeat of deportation-only practices, using its last few months in office to put regulations in place that will make it that much more difficult for a new administration to tackle immigration in a straightforward and reasonable way. The administration should heed the call of thousands of employees and employers who fear the ramifications of this new rule.

The next administration and Congress should move quickly to help America get back on its feet by enacting immigration reform that is fiscally responsible, creates genuine security for communities, and leads to rational regulation of immigration. The no-match rule makes no contribution to those objectives and should be shelved before it disrupts the economy even further.


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