Court delays crackdown on illegal workers

On Oct. 1, Judge Charles R. Breyer of the San Francisco Federal District Court delayed the implementation of the no-match letter rule, which was created to crack down on employers who hire illegal immigrants. Breyer extended for 10 days a temporary ban on the no-match letter rule, according to The New York Times.

The rule establishes steps employers must follow when they receive a no-match letter, which is a notice from the Social Security Administration (SSA) stating that an employee's identity information does not match agency records. Originally scheduled to take effect Sept. 14, the rule mandates that if an employee cannot explain the mismatch within 90 days, the employer must fire the employee or risk prosecution for having "constructive knowledge" of hiring an illegal immigrant.

The lawsuit was brought against the government by the American Civil Liberties Union, AFL-CIO and various San Francisco labor organizations; on Sept. 7, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and several national small business associations, including NRCA, joined the lawsuit. After the hearing yesterday, Breyer seemed to have concerns regarding the no-match letter rule.

"It is clear to me at this point there would be irreparable harm to the plaintiffs," Breyer said at the end of the hearing. "It just seems to me looking at it that this is a potentially enormous burden on the employer."

On Aug. 31, Judge Maxine Chesney of the San Francisco Federal District Court granted a restraining order, delaying the rule from taking effect and barring SSA from sending out about 141,000 no-match letters.

Business groups argue that the effects of the rule would be "substantial, immediate and irreparable," and labor organizations say SSA's records contain many errors and could result in unjust firings of legal workers and U.S. citizens. In addition, they argue that the Department of Homeland Security has exceeded its authority by improperly seeking to use confidential information from SSA to enforce immigration laws.

The government says the rule is supposed to help employers by explaining the steps they need to take to comply with the law. It maintains that the rule is in line with current immigration laws and does not impose any new burdens on employers.

In the Oct. 1 issue of The Wall Street Journal, Craig Silvertooth, NRCA's director of federal affairs, said the new rule creates everything "from concern to utter panic among roofing contractors. There is no way to run your business if this goes forward."

Breyer is expected to make a decision by Oct. 11.

Date : 10/3/2007