DHS to Revise Controversial Social Security No-Match Regulation in Response to Lawsuit

The U.S. government has told a California court it intends to revise the controversial new DHS regulation that requires employers to resolve mismatches between employee Social Security numbers and existing records in government databases or risk criminal and civil penalties for knowingly employing illegal workers.

The government’s decision was prompted by a lawsuit over the regulation which had been put on hold pending the court’s decision in the case.

The motion filed by the Department of Justice last week requests a stay in the proceedings until the rule-making process is finished, which is estimated to be at the end of March 2008.

The motion states that as part of the rule-making process, the government will address concerns raised by the court, including conducting an analysis of the economic impact of the rule and its effect on small businesses.

The rule, titled Safe-Harbor Procedures for Employers Who Receive a No-Match Letter, was published in August and would have given employers three months to correct or verify Social Security numbers that do not match employee names after receiving a “no-match” letter from the Social Security Administration. If the names and numbers cannot not be reconciled, employers would be forced to fire the workers or be held liable for illegal hires.

The American Civil Liberties Union, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, labor unions and immigrant rights groups sued the agency in September in California, alleging that government databases are so error prone that the rule would harm U.S. citizen employees and discriminate against foreign-born or simply foreign-looking or foreign-sounding workers.

In response, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California issued a preliminary injunction blocking the government from mailing the letters while the court considers the case.

For more background on this issue, please see our previous article “Calif. Court Blocks New Social Security “No Match” Rule Pending Trial Judgment.”

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