SAN FRANCISCO - October 2–
Yesterday a San Francisco federal judge extended for 10 days a temporary restraining order (TRO) that blocks the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) from using backlogged and error-prone social security records to enforce immigration law. In the upcoming 10 days, the judge will rule on whether or not to permanently stop the Social Security Administration (SSA) from sending “no match” notices to approximately 140,000 employers across the country. SEIU attorneys, who have joined the federal lawsuit through SEIU’s labor federation Change to Win, have identified the following possible rulings:
With 1.9 million members, SEIU is the fastest-growing union in North America. Focused on uniting workers in three sectors to improve their lives and the services they provide, SEIU is the largest health care union, including hospitals, nursing homes, and home care; the largest property services union, including building cleaning and security; and the second largest public employee union.
1. The Judge could rule for a permanent injunction, which would bar the DHS and the SSA from using these “no match” social security letters to enforce immigration law.
2. The Judge could uphold the DHS regulations, but rule that the current SSA “no match” letters are illegal because they ask employers to investigate and clear up employee discrepancies. This ruling would mean that the SSA would have to remove language in the letter that asks employers to take action. After redoing the letters, “no match” letters could go out.
3. The judge could rule in the federal governments favor and allow the currently designed SSA “no match” letters to go out to about 140,000 employers. These “no match” letters would impact approximately eight million workers—many of them citizens and legal permanent residents.
In reaction to the court’s initial decision, SEIU Executive Vice President Eliseo Medina issued the following statement.
Court’s Decision to Delay Flawed “No Match” Letters is a Good First Step in Campaign to Protect Workers
The new social security “no match” regulations may be “tough” enforcement, but they’re not smart enforcement. Sending out “no match” letters based on a backlogged system full of discrepancies will lead to unfair firings of legal workers, wrongful detention, and a chaotic churning of workers across industries.
The Social Security administration’s own internal reports suggest that hundreds of thousands of the “no match” letters will be incorrect. That means that thousands of U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents will be forced to run the Social Security Administration’s bureaucratic gauntlet in order to keep their jobs. In most cases, employers aren’t likely to wait out the red tape to re-verify a worker—employers will fire first and only the most well connected workers will be able to ask questions later.
This unwise, piecemeal approach will lead to chaos—not order—and untold misery for many our nation’s hardest, most underpaid workers. If left unchecked, “no match” regulations will push all low-wage workers deeper into the shadows, breed division, and benefit the most unscrupulous, off-the-books employers.
It’s time to end this divisive, ill-conceived man-hunt. It does not make this country stronger to round up hardworking men and women who work 14 hour days picking vegetables, mopping floors, and handling meat on a factory line. Our government is wasting precious resources to ravage local economies and spread fear and isolation.
The promise of America used to be that people could come here, work hard and succeed. These hasty attempts to sweep our country of hard working immigrants do not embody the principles this country was founded upon. It’s time to stop the indiscriminate round ups and get back to finding solutions that strengthen—rather than divide—our nation.
Along with eight other unions in the Change to Win labor coalition, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) recently joined the federal lawsuit against DHS and SSA. The original lawsuit was filed in August by the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Immigration Law Center (NILC) and the Central Labor Council of Alameda County along with other local labor movements.