AFL-CIO sues Homeland Security over no-match
By Julia Cheever
August 30, 2007
Four national and local labor groups sued the Department of
Homeland Security in federal court in San Francisco Wednesday
to challenge a new rule aimed at removing illegal immigrants from
the work force.
The AFL-CIO and other groups claim the rule will result in discrimination
against and possible firing of U.S. citizens and residents who
are legal workers but have problems such as clerical errors with
their Social Security numbers.
The suit alleges, "The new rule would place millions of
U.S. citizens and non-citizens with work authorization at risk
of losing their jobs because of discrepancies in Social Security
Administration tax database."
The lawsuit seeks a court order halting implementation of the
so-called "no match" rule, which is slated to go into
effect Sept. 14.
American Civil Liberties Union spokeswoman Stella Richardson
said the plaintiffs hope to schedule a hearing before a federal
judge in San Francisco as early as Thursday on their request for
a temporary restraining order.
The Department of Homeland Security rule is one of several administrative
immigration enforcement measures announced by the Bush Administration
earlier this month after Congress failed to pass an immigration
It requires employers to give workers 90 days to fix problems
with social security numbers that don't match information in the
Social Security Administration database.
If the problem isn't resolved, employers must take further steps
that could include firing the worker. Those who fail to do so
can be considered to be knowingly hiring illegal workers and could
face criminal prosecution or fines of $2,500 to $14,000 per worker.
In addition to the AFL-CIO, the plaintiffs include the San Francisco
Labor Council, the San Francisco Construction and Building Trades
Council and the Central Labor Council of Alameda County.
Defendants include the U.S. Department of Homeland Security,
Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Social Security Administration.
Department of Homeland Security press secretary Russ Knocke said,
"This lawsuit is an obvious attempt to impede the department's
ability to enforce our immigration laws. It is completely without
merit and we intend to fight it vigorously."
Knocke said, "The no-match regulation gives employers a
clear way to deal with a no-match letter within a generous period
of time - 90 days.
He said, "The rule assures employers that if they follow
the procedures laid out, they can avoid liability. Those employers
who disregard no-match letters in the future should expect serious
But AFL-CIO President John Sweeney charged, "This rule is
a new tool to repress workers' rights in the name of phony immigration
Sweeney alleged, "Employers have used SSA no-match letters
to fire workers when workers try to organize, when they report
a wage claim or workplace hazard, or when they get injured. The
new rule gives employers a stronger pretext for engaging in such
The lawsuit says the Social Security Administration's huge database
It contends that while some of the unmatched numbers are fake
numbers used by illegal workers, many are the result of clerical
and spelling errors, name changes after marriage or divorce and
different ways of presenting last names originating in Latin America
Current law requires employers to verify the immigration status
of workers when they are hired, but does not impose continuing
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