Federal government issues “no-match” guidelines

On Friday, the federal government announced new regulations that mandate employers who receive "no-match" letters" must terminate a worker's employment if the worker cannot prove he or she is a legal immigrant within a 90-day period, according to the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS's) Web site.

No-match letters are notices that tell an employer that an employee's listed Social Security number comes up under a different name in government records. The new guidelines require that employers take action when they receive no-match letters. Workers must produce birth certificates or other official records to prove they are who they say they are; if they don't, employers have to fire the workers or face fines of as much as $12,500 per worker.

"There is a right way to react to a no-match letter, which, if followed in good faith, will give the employer a safe harbor against liability, and there is also a wrong way to respond, which is to ignore it," said DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff in a statement on Friday. "And the regulation makes clear that if you ignore a no-match letter, you are putting yourself in a position where that fact will be used against you if the time comes to assess liability."

People are viewing the new guidelines in various ways. Some say the regulations will cause massive layoffs of legal and undocumented workers, greatly affecting industries that rely on that work force. Others say the effects will be positive, preventing rampant illegal hiring in the U.S.

"Ultimately, these guidelines will make it more difficult for illegal aliens to use a fraudulent Social Security number to get a job, and it will help employers take appropriate action to protect themselves," Chertoff says.

Immigrant workers are actively protesting the federal government's enforcement of these guidelines. Workers who have lost their jobs are rallying with protests and lawsuits, alleging labor abuses were committed by their employers. Many had been hesitant to come forward about labor conditions because of their undocumented statuses, but the new guidelines and loss of jobs brought them forward.

"Maybe we won't win, but at least they'll see that even if we don't have papers, we won't stay quiet," says one recently fired Chicago Dunkin' Donuts worker when speaking to fellow plaintiffs in a class-action lawsuit filed Tuesday, Aug. 7, that alleged unpaid overtime and other labor abuses by a group of doughnut franchise owners.

The regulations go into effect 30 days from the day they are issued.

To read NRCA's Special Report about the regulations, click here.

For NRCA's position paper about immigration, click here.

Date : 8/14/2007