Senate Overturns Obama Decision Wednesday to Rescind Flawed Bush “No-Match” Immigration Rule

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Linda Paris, (202) 675-2312; media@dcaclu.org  

Senate Overturns Obama Decision Wednesday to Rescind Flawed Bush “No-Match” Immigration Rule

Vitter Amendment Requires Employers to Fire Workers Unable to Resolve Discrepancies in Social Security Records

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Senate passed by voice vote today an amendment offered by Senate David Vitter (R-LA) requiring employers to fire workers, including U.S. citizens, who are unable to resolve discrepancies in their Social Security records. The Senate vote seeks to overturn President Obama's decision Wednesday to rescind the fatally flawed Bush administration Social Security no-match rule by prohibiting the Department of Homeland Security ("DHS") from implementing any changes to it.

In passing the Vitter amendment, the Senate has taken a dangerous step that would threaten the jobs of tens of thousands of U.S. workers at a time when our economy is in great peril. The Social Security no-match rule, promulgated by the Bush administration in 2007, has been strongly opposed by groups across the political spectrum - business, labor, immigration, civil rights, and civil libertarian groups. Due to a federal injunction issued in 2007 as a result of a lawsuit filed on behalf of the ACLU and other groups, the no-match rule has not gone into effect.

"While the Senate might think it has taken a step to fix illegal immigration, it has actually set into motion a rule that will jeopardize the jobs of tens of thousands of U.S. citizens who could be unjustly fired under the rule due to SSA database errors," said Joanne Lin, ACLU Legislative Counsel.

The no-match rule would unlawfully use the error-ridden Social Security database for immigration enforcement purposes by requiring employers to fire workers, including U.S. citizens, who are unable to resolve discrepancies in their Social Security records within 90 days of receipt of a no-match letter. If an employer does not resolve a data mismatch, DHS may conclude that the employer had "constructive knowledge" that an employee is not authorized to work, and may prosecute the employer accordingly.

"Social Security no-match letters were never designed to be immigration enforcement tools, and they cannot and will not solve the problem of illegal immigration," added Lin. "Moreover, the no-match rule will harm people with disabilities and senior citizens by forcing them to deal with longer waits and more bureaucratic hassles in order to get their Social Security benefits checks. At a time of great economic instability, the Senate has taken a step towards jeopardizing the livelihood of U.S. workers, senior citizens, and people with disabilities."

In 2007, a federal court blocked the no-match rule after the ACLU, AFL-CIO, and National Immigration Law Center sued DHS. The court concluded that the no-match rule would affect more than eight million workers nationwide and lead to the firing of tens of thousands of U.S. citizens. According to the Social Security Administration's own Inspector General, more than 70 percent of the discrepancies in the SSA database belong to U.S. citizens. An economist hired by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce estimates that the total number of authorized workers who will be fired under the no-match rule because of their inability to resolve the data mismatch could top 165,000. 

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The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) conserves America's original civic values working in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in the United States by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

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