25-Point Plan to Stem Illegal Worker Flow Announced
After signaling that it would do so for some time, the Bush Administration on Aug. 10 unveiled a series of measures designed to crack down on illegal immigrants.
The 25-point plan, announced by Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez, includes adding more patrol agents and fencing, barriers and surveillance equipment at the Mexican border; increasing by approximately 25% the civil fines imposed on employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants; and proposing an administrative rule that would require all federal contractors to use E-Verify, formerly called the Basic Pilot Program — an Internet-based electronic employee verification system.
Of special note to the business community, Homeland Security announced the imminent release of its final rule concerning Social Security no-match letters.
The final rule will advise employers on how they should respond if they receive a no-match letter (“Employer Correction Request”) from the Social Security Administration (SSA) indicating that the combination of the employee’s name and Social Security number does not match agency records.
The SSA projects that 140,000 letters will be sent out this year. Many of these letters are the result of clerical and other errors, and they do not necessarily mean that the employee is an illegal alien.
Under the new rule, there will be certain procedures to be followed upon receipt of a no-match letter in order to receive safe harbor from Homeland Security. If the no-match situation is not resolved by following these procedures, the employer must then fire the employee or risk being charged with an illegal hiring violation if it is determined that the employee is in fact illegal.
An employer who follows these procedures will not be charged with a violation, unless there is additional evidence that the employer knew about the employee’s illegal status. Hiring violations are punishable by civil fines or by criminal prosecution for repeat offenders.
The final rule will go into effect 30 days from its date of publication. Note: The final no-match rule is expected to contain significant differences from the proposed rule that was published on June 14, 2006. If the final rule is published with the content that is expected, the procedures and time limits should be as follows:
Overview of Expected Procedures and Time Limits:
- Employer receives no match letter (Day 0)
- Step One (0 to 30 days) — Employer checks own records. If error is found, employer makes corrections and verifies with SSA.
- Step Two (0 to 90 days) — If no-match is not resolved with Step One, employer notifies employee and asks the employee if employer’s Form I-9 information is correct. If incorrect, employer makes corrections and verifies with SSA.
- Step Three (0 to 90 days) — If employee indicates that the Form I-9 information is correct, employee is asked to contact SSA and attempt to rectify the no-match.
- Step Four (90 to 93 days) — If employee does not resolve no-match within 90 days, employer (within three days) performs a new Form I-9 verification with different documents.
- Step Five (90 to 93 days) — If the new Form I-9 verification is successful, attach the new form to old Form I-9 and retain both documents.
- Step Six (90 to 93 days) — If the new Form I-9 verification is unsuccessful, employer either terminates employee or risks being charged with a hiring violation if the employee is in fact an unauthorized alien.
NAHB is preparing a detailed no-match rule compliance check-list that will be posted on the nahb.org members’ site after the final rule is published.
For more information, e-mail David Crump at NAHB, or call him at 800-368-5242 x8491.