by Alex Meneses Miyashita
A federal Judge blocked Oct. 10 implementation of a federal rule targeting undocumented workers, a decision hailed by labor, immigrant and civil rights groups who claim the regulation world affect all workers.
The Department of Homeland Security rule would have required employers receiving so-called “No Match” letters fromthe Social Security Administration to notify employees with erroneous numbers to fix the discrepancy within 90 days or else have them fired.
Employers would also have been held liable if they did not take action against those workers who could not fix those discrepancies.
U.S. District Judge Charles R. Breyer issued a preliminary injunction on the regulation: meaning it will not go into effect until a final ruling comes after a trial, which has not been scheduled and which, according to sources, may not happen at all. The order was issued in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.
“In his decision, (Breyer) was very clear that he found irreparable harm would be caused by these letters to workers,” Mariana Bustamante, education coordinator for the Immigrants Rights Project of the American Civil Liberties Union, told Weekly Report.
Opponents of the regulation, which also include the AFL-CIO and the National Immigration Law Center, pressed the argument that if implemented, the rule would cause massive layoffs of legal workers because of SSA data errors.
Marielena Hincapié, director of programs for the NILC, told Weekly Report there are nearly 18 million discrepancies in its database, the vast majority of these (70 percent) pertaining U.S.-citizen workers.
Discrepancies could arise because of simple spelling mistakes, name changes or use of more than one surname, the groups maintain.
The rule was challenged in court by these groups early last month. Some 140,000 employers would have received these letters if it had been implemented.
The OHS has issued a response in which it states it is considering an appeal to the injunction.
DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff stated in defense of the regulation, “Ultimately, employer diligence will make it more difficult for illegal aliens to use a fraudulent Social Security number to get a job.”
He added the ruling “is yet another reminder of why we need Congress to enact comprehensive immigration reform.”
Hincapié expressed optimism that even if the DHS appeals the judge’s decision, the order against its implementation will stand, based on their argument that it would cause “irreparable harm.~ She added the government has not been able to “make the direct correlation that this is about immigration status.”