Civil Rights Coalition Charges That Finalized "No Match" Rule Will Hurt American Workers And Economy

For Immediate Release

Civil Rights Coalition
Contact: 

Maria Archuleta, ACLU, (212) 519-7808 or 549-2666; media@aclu.org
Alison Omens, AFL-CIO, (202) 637-5018; aomens@aflcio.org
Nora Preciado, NILC, (213) 674-2823; preciado@nilc.org

Civil Rights Coalition Charges That Finalized "No Match" Rule Will Hurt American Workers And Economy

WASHINGTON - The
"no match" rule reissued by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)
today will put the livelihoods of authorized workers - including U.S.
citizens - at risk, have a devastating impact on the already suffering
U.S. economy and lead to widespread discrimination in the workforce,
according to a coalition of civil rights organizations.

The republished rule, which contains
no real changes from the previous one issued, still improperly uses the
notoriously flawed Social Security Administration (SSA) database and
forces employers to fire workers if their names and Social Security
numbers cannot be matched.

A federal court blocked the "no
match" rule in October 2007, after the American Civil Liberties Union,
the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial
Organizations (AFL-CIO) and National Immigration Law Center (NILC)
filed a lawsuit against DHS. The lawsuit charged that the rule's
enforcement would put workers at risk of losing their jobs because the
SSA database is rife with errors and would cause discrimination against
workers who look or sound "foreign." The court's preliminary order
blocking the rule continues to apply to the republished rule. 

Previously, "no match" letters were
never considered reason to believe that an employee did not have
permission to work in the U.S. Indeed, the SSA's own inspector general
found that more than 70 percent of the discrepancies in the SSA
database that could generate a "no match" letter belong to native-born
U.S. citizens. Discrepancies between workers' social security numbers
and SSA records can result from many innocent factors including
clerical errors, name changes due to marriage or divorce, or the common
use of multiple surnames.

Studies have found that the proposed
"no match" rule would have significant negative economic costs to
employers and work-authorized immigrants. A study commissioned by DHS
estimates that 3.9 million lawful workers will be the subject of a "no
match" letter. An economic analysis commissioned by the U.S. Chamber of
Commerce and authored by Richard B. Belzer, who holds a Ph.D. in public
policy from Harvard University, found that more than 165,000 lawful
U.S. workers could lose their jobs because of their inability to
resolve discrepancies with the SSA. The cost to employers will be at
least $1 billion per year.

The statements below can be attributed to the following participants in the lawsuit:

Lucas Guttentag, Director of the ACLU Immigrants' Rights Project:
"Rather than safeguard jobs in
perilous times, the Bush administration has chosen to threaten the
livelihoods of millions of American workers by republishing a
discredited rule instead of fixing the Social Security database. If the
goal is to protect workers, the administration should enforce our
overtime, labor and discrimination laws, stop worker exploitation and
put teeth into the existing rules against abuse and exploitation. Those
are things that would protect all workers and punish businesses that
violate the law."

Marielena Hincapié, Executive Director of NILC:
"The DHS has reissued the same rule
with utter disregard for the impact it will have on work-authorized
immigrants who will lose their jobs due to the inaccuracies in the SSA
database, which still haven't been fixed. The rule will not have an
impact on undocumented immigration, which can only be addressed through
meaningful immigration reform. American workers and the U.S. economy
are struggling; good employers will lose out at a time when our economy
can't sustain further job loss. Any efforts to target bad employers
that exploit undocumented workers require strong labor law enforcement,
not a flawed rule like the one DHS has reissued."

John Sweeney, President of the AFL-CIO:
"No matter how many times the
administration repackages this rule, relying on the error-filled Social
Security database is a recipe for disaster for both American workers
and the economy. The current administration has chosen to ignore these
realities and forge ahead with a harmful policy, leaving a disastrous
parting gift to our new leadership. Rather than punishing and causing
discrimination against workers who will be the innocent victims of a
fatally deficient database, the administration should abandon this rule
unless it can guarantee that no American workers will lose their
jobs." 

The finalized rule is available online at: www.aclu.org/immigrants/workplace/37349lgl20081023.html

Belzer's analysis is available at: www.regulations.gov/fdmspublic/component/main?main=DocumentDetail&d=ICEB-2006-0004-0324.1

The coalition's complaint and other information about the lawsuit and the "no match" rule can be found at: www.aclu.org/nomatch and at: www.nilc.org/immsemplymnt/SSA_Related_info/

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