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It appears that the Obama Administration and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) have made a policy decision to rescind the 2007 “No Match Rule.” Under this rule, the Social Security administration (SSA) would have been required to notify employers who report earnings for at least ten employees whose names do not match their Social Security numbers from information submitted on Form W-2. Further, procedures would have been included in a separate insert letter from DHS explaining how employers are required to resolve such discrepancies, called safe harbor procedures. Mismatches occur in about 4 percent of the 250 million earnings reports submitted annually to the Social Security Administration

The rule would have required that employers double-check their records for accuracy and then have employees correct any discrepancies. When DHS announced the no-match Rule in October, 2008, the Department stated: “there is a substantial connection between social security no-match letters and the lack of work authorization by some employees whose SSNs are listed in those letters.” Additionally, DHS cited a private study that concluded that “most workers with unmatched SSNs are undocumented immigrants.” (No Match Final Rule, October 8, 2008).

Despite these findings, No-Match letters have not been issued since 2006 due to the 2007 No-Match rule which was blocked by court order shortly after issuance and has never taken effect. The department has not said whether it will be issuing no-match letters in 2009.

Janet Napolitano, DHS Secretary, seemingly has ignored the role the No-match Rule could play in immigration enforcement. She attributed most Social Security no-match letters to “typographical errors or unreported name changes.” (DHS Press release, July 9, 2009).

Some believe this policy, if implemented, will “help illegal aliens keep their current jobs and make it easier for illegal aliens to commit social Security fraud.” Others believe the no-match rule, if implemented, would discriminate against workers who are legal but yet aren’t able to rectify discrepancies within the required 90 days. As always, the best measure is to make sure your I-9 house is in order, regardless of the no-match rule final outcome. Be on the look-out for future information regarding this issue: discrimination, whether perceived or justified.

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