Judge Halts Illegal Immigrant Crackdown

Judge Halts Illegal Immigrant Crackdown

TSCL Tells Congress “Close The Loophole” That Allows Social Security For Illegal Work.

A federal judge has delayed a crackdown on U.S. employers who knowingly employ illegal immigrants.  The Social Security Administration (SSA) has found that up to 10% of workers have suspicious names and Social Security numbers that don’t match those on file — an indication that a person may be an illegal worker.

Under new rules issued by the Department of Homeland Security, companies would have 90 days to resolve discrepancies or fire the employee.  Companies that do not comply would face the possibilities of fines and criminal penalties for knowingly violating federal law.

 The announcement of the rules has employers and organized labor up in arms.  Corporate farm interests protested saying as much as 90% of the agricultural work force is illegal and that American crops would rot in the fields because there would be nobody to pick our food.

 The AFL-CIO and the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit alleging that the Department of Homeland Security is overstepping its authority to enforce immigration laws and misusing the Social Security Administration’s database.  They argue that the Social Security database is full of errors and, that law - abiding citizens and legal residents could lose their jobs.

 But according to the San Jose Mercury News, just a week after the crackdown was announced the Bush Administration conceded that the rules would be nearly useless.  That’s because when the SSA notifies employers about bogus Social Security numbers it is barred by law from also alerting the Department of Homeland Security, the agency responsible for handing out penalties.  Section 6103 of the IRS code is a privacy provision that the government has interpreted to mean that the Social Security Administration is forbidden from sharing information with other agencies.
In addition, there is no law requiring employers to check a new employee’s SSN against the SSA database, and there are long gaps between when an employee is hired and when SSA finally sends a notice to employers.  Illegal workers often hop from job to job to avoid detection.

TSCL, in the meantime, continues to meet with Members of Congress to explain a loophole that allows payment of Social Security benefits based on illegal earnings.  TSCL supports “No Social Security For Illegal Immigrants Act” (H.R. 736) introduced by Representative Dana Rohrabacher (CA).

Sources:  “Immigrant Crackdown Halted,” Spencer Hsu, The Washington Post, September 1, 2007.  “Farmers Fear Illegal Immigrant Crackdown,” Juliana Barbassa, The Associated Press, August 16, 2007.  “Bush Crackdown Tough To Enforce,” Javier Erik Olvera and Lisa Friedman, San Jose Mercury News, August 17, 2007.