Ruling allows US tech firms to dodge an immigration bullet
Feds still have plenty of ammo, though
Technology firms in the US just won a last-minute reprieve from a fusillade of new, and potentially devastating, immigration rules.
But the government is almost certain to reload and try again in a higher court.
Judge Charles Breyer of the Northern District of California granted a preliminary injunction on Wednesday that put a halt to a new tag-team effort by the Department of Homeland Security and the Social Security Administration to
correct errors in the Social Security records hunt down workers possibly in the country illegally.
This preliminary injunction will stop the federal agencies' plans for the time being, but the US government has the option to appeal the order to the Court of Appeals for Ninth Circuit.
Then, even if the Ninth Circuit upholds the injunction, the parties must go to trial over the merits of the case to determine if the preliminary injunction should become permanent.
Without wading too far into the Kafkaesque legal swamp surrounding both Social Security and immigration issues in the US, here is a rundown of what the DHS and SSA did and/or proposed to do:
The DHS recently began to promulgate new rules and procedures surrounding so-called "No Match" letters issued by the SSA. The SSA normally sends these letters out to employers after the agency notices a discrepancy between the Social Security records that an employer's records for an employee and the agency's own information.
These discrepancies cause the SSA to suspend posting the mismatched worker's earnings to their retirement credit until the confusion gets sorted out. The letters ordinarily act as simple requests for more data so that the SSA can sort out the problem and resume collecting the employee's earnings if everything is on the up and up.
A few months ago, however, the DHS tried to change the rules of the game by modifying a regulation related to criminal violations for knowingly employing illegal aliens. The new regulation added the No Match letters to a list of items that provide constructive knowledge of an employee's unauthorized status.
Thus, if an employer received one of these No Match letters and did nothing, they would be criminally liable if the worker in question turned out to be illegal.
The DHS did give employers a way out: after receipt of a No Match letter the employer must check internal records and attempt to discover the source of the mismatch within 30 days. If the employer's records are correct, the employee then has 90 days to clear up the confusion with the SSA. Sounds simple, right?
There is a catch. The SSA planned to send out 140,000 such letters, covering roughly eight million employees.
Them's a lot of records to check in 30 days.
@Blackley re @Matt
References? REFERENCES? We don't need no steenkin references! This is a comments section. We'll make things up when we feel like it. Just like regular journos. So there.
"War and all and the deficit is continuing to go down"
Is it really, Matt? In the US? That's great news - please point me to the reference you used for this.
Has anyone complaining how tough this is worked in the U.S.?
"Gee, I have a letter from the SSA for Doe, John."
Walk over to filing cabinets"...D...Doe...ah, here we go, John Doe." Pull file with hiring paperwork out.
There's a W4 and whatever that INS form used since 1988 or so that in 99% of the cases has a driver's license and social security card photocopy with it.
Look at SSA letter, look at W4 & INS paperwork...
Now either do A or B
A) "Hi, SSA, we got a letter from you about John Doe, but the SSN you were questioning doesn't match our paperwork. You had 123-45-6789. It's actually 132-45-6789. Ok. Have a nice day."
B) "Uh, John...we have problem. SSA sent us this letter saying the SSN you provided us doesn't match. I've double checked, and the number you gave us matches the number on the photocopy of the SS Card you gave us...so you have to call SSA and straighten this out. And don't wait, because as of today we have 90 days to get this straightened out or we have to let you go."
Wow. Oh my god. That is so overwhelmingly onerous, it will cause the economy to screech to a halt.
Yes, we've tolerated wink-wink nod-nod with immigration and other issues for years. Yes, IRS benefits with increased tax receipts that aren't filed for refunds. Yes, SSNs are not unique identifiers (you can't ask for a copy of "your" credit report by SSN...since all the credit agencies realize it will likely reveal confidential information about other people).
Where do we pick and choose? Is using someone else SSN more or less of a crime then using an RNC email address to get around Freedom of Information act requirements? Do you enforce laws based on your poltical opinion du jour? Or is Cheney ignoring one like deleting emails down right evil, but you're a racist if you enforce immigration and tax laws?
I think what you're supposed to do is your best to enforce & follow the existing laws while filing legislation to fix what is broken.
While I also used to subscribe to the starve-the-beast theory...let's face it, it ain't working. War and all and the deficit is continuing to go down, and the Democrats certainly don't care about it either (gee, let's tax cigarettes -- not that it's regressive or subject to purchasing habits, we'll count it as an offset! Or my favorite..."The deficit is out of control! Why with what we're spending for ____ we could have done ______ instead!" Huh, but what does that do for the deficit? )