Jul 21, 2009

No-Match Regulations Rescinded

Earlier this month, Janet Napolitano -- the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) -- announced that DHS was abandoning its regulations explaining what employers should do when they receive a no-match letter. As explained in a previous post, an employer receives a no-match letter from the Social Security Administration when the Social Security number submitted for an employee (usually on the W-2 form given to the IRS) doesn't match the government's records. 

The regulations laid out the steps employers had to follow after receiving a no-match letter, including checking for clerical errors or typos, asking the employee to provide corrected information, and asking the employee to present documents reverifying the employee's identity and authorization to work in the United States. An employer who followed these steps -- and terminated employment of anyone who couldn't come up with the goods -- was entitled to safe harbor protection from prosecution for knowingly employing an unauthorized worker.

The regulations never went into effect, however. A coalition of labor, immigrants' rights, and business groups filed a lawsuit in federal district court in San Francisco, asking the judge to issue a restraining order. The judge did so, and DHS was prohibited from enforcing the rules. Now, those rules have been rescinded. In the same announcement, Secretary Napolitano stated that all federal contractors, including those who will receive stimulus funds, will be required to use the government's E-Verify system to check work authorization status. And no-match letters aren't all DHS is thinking twice about: Last week, the Secretary announced that DHS would be reconsidering the color-coded threat advisory system.