The current immigration system is broken, and new enforcement regimes should only be enacted as part of comprehensive immigration reform. New enforcement laws and regulations not in the context of broader reform are likely to cause confusion and disruption in the workforce.
In June of 2006, the Department of Homeland Security issued a proposed regulation on its interpretation of the legal significance of the Social Security Administration’s no-match letters. The letters are issued when a name and a social security number in the W-2 tax forms do not match, frequently because of a change of name due to marriage, misspellings, or an incomplete form.
The proposed rule called on employers to abide by new burdensome requirements to avoid liability on future litigation. It would also significantly raise the penalties and fines on employers for failing to fire an employee, whether legally in the country or not, if the employee was unable to resolve the no-match discrepancy within the specified period of time. The Essential Worker Immigration Coalition (EWIC) submitted comments for the record on the proposed rule that outlined the business communities concerns.
In August of 2007, the rule was issued as final. While DHS did address some of EWIC’s concerns and suggestions, there was still much confusion and concern over the effect this rule would have over employers. DHS also failed to do an analysis of the cost of the regulation on small businesses, as it is required to do under the Regulatory Flexibility Act, and its legality in general was also questioned.
EWIC believes that this rule would have a significantly negative impact on the American economy and businesses, big and small. On September 14, 2007 a reported 140,000 Social Security no-match letters were expected to go out to employers across the country affecting over eight million workers. The AFL-CIO filed a lawsuit arguing that DHS lacks the authority to issue these regulations without Congressional authorization and that DHS is attempting to create a new liability standard for employers from what is statutorily provided. Some members of EWIC independently intervened in this lawsuit asking further that DHS conduct the necessary economic analysis as required under the Regulatory Flexibility Act. The issuance of these letters has been enjoined by the federal district court, pending full review and final ruling in the case.
Homeland Security Resources: