Homeland Security Crackdown on Illegal Workers Imminent
With Congress failing to act on immigration reform, recent news reports from the Associated Press and the Los Angeles Times indicate that the Bush Administration is now planning a new crackdown on illegal immigrants, which could force millions of business owners to either fire them or face heavy fines and even imprisonment.
Any day now, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is expected to issue new rules on how employers must respond if they receive a letter from the Social Security Administration stating that a worker’s name or Social Security number does not match agency records.
The Social Security Administration sent out 127,000 such “no-match” letters in 2005 covering 7.3 million mismatched records, according to government figures. Under the proposed new rule, the DHS would have access to the Social Security Administration's no-match letter data.
Many of these letters were the result of clerical errors such as misspelled names, typographical mistakes and failure to record name changes when newly married women switch from their maiden name to the surname of their spouse. In addition, in the Latino culture, it is common for a person to have several surnames, which can generate confusion.
These are the procedures under the proposed new rule, but a word of caution: the final rule may be different.
Employers who receive "no-match" letters would have 14 days to inform the employee and to recheck the Employment Eligibility Verification Form I-9, which they are required to keep under federal law to verify the identity and work authorization of all persons who are hired.
Employees would have 60 days to contact the Social Security Administration and attempt to correct any discrepancies.
If the employee is unable to rectify the "no match" problem, the employer would then have three days to conduct a new I-9 verification using different identification documents.
If, after the end of this process, the employer cannot verify the legal status of their worker, the employee must be terminated. Employers who fail to comply could face stiff fines or even imprisonment for each worker that is found to be an illegal immigrant.
Once the final rules are published, NAHB will provide full details along with a compliance checklist for builders to follow should they receive a letter from the Social Security Administration regarding a no-match situation.
For more information, e-mail David Crump at NAHB, or call him at 800-368-5242 x8491.