When the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (under the Bush Administration) announced its Social Security No Match Rule in August 2007, there was immediate concern about its unfair and far-reaching impacts on employers and workers. The rule intended to crack down on illegal workers, and employers who knowingly hire them, by requiring employers to take certain steps within 90 days of receiving a “no match” letter alerting them that Social Security records do not match the employee’s W-2 records. Unions and employers, concerned that this could ensnare not just undocumented workers but those with database errors and name changes, filed suit and obtained an injunction barring the rule from taking effect. Now, we’re receiving word that it never will. DHS, under President Barack Obama, plans to rescind the rule, rendering the ongoing legal battle over it moot. The Obama Administration instead indicated in a press release that it will emphasize use of E-Verify:
“E-Verify is a smart, simple and effective tool that reflects our continued commitment to working with employers to maintain a legal workforce,” Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano said. “Requiring those who seek federal contracts to use this system will create a more reliable and legal workforce. The rule complements our Department’s continued efforts to strengthen immigration law enforcement and protect critical employment opportunities. As Senator Schumer and others have recognized, we need to continue to work to improve E-Verify, and we will.”
E-Verify, which compares information from the Employment Eligibility Verification Form (I-9) against federal government databases to verify workers’ employment eligibility, is a free web-based system operated by DHS in partnership with the Social Security Administration (SSA). The system facilitates compliance with federal immigration laws and helps to deter unauthorized individuals from attempting to work and also helps employers avoid employing unauthorized aliens.
We’ll continue to monitor this developing story and attempt to provide analysis of how it could affect employers, as well as what they should do to make sure they are following the law.