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November 26, 2007

Feds drop "no match" rule that threatened 12.7 million legal jobs

The Department of Homeland Security privately dropped its proposed "no match" rule over the Thanksgiving break, according to a statement issued by the ACLU:

SAN FRANCISCO – The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) abandoned its attempt to enforce its proposed "no match" rule that would improperly use social security records for immigration enforcement. In a late Friday afternoon court filing the day after Thanksgiving in federal court in San Francisco, DHS requested that a lawsuit challenging the rule be put on hold until March 2008. The government plans to publish a revised rule in December 2007 that it claims will pass legal muster.

The lawsuit was brought by the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Immigration Law Center (NILC) and labor groups to block the proposed "no match" rule which would require employers to penalize or fire U.S. citizens and legal workers whose social security numbers don't match up with the Social Security Administration (SSA) database. The lawsuit charges that the SSA database is fundamentally flawed and error-prone, and that the rule would result in the firing of countless legal workers as well as discrimination against those who look or sound "foreign." (emphasis added) [ACLU]

The government opted to take its plan back to the drawing board, rather than fighting to justify the flawed proposal in court:

The government’s proposal was a response to an indefinite delay to the rule ordered Oct. 10 by the judge, Charles R. Breyer of Federal District Court in San Francisco. Judge Breyer found that the government had failed to follow proper procedures in issuing the rule and that it should have completed a survey of its impact on small business.

He also found that the Social Security database the government would use to verify workers’ status was full of errors, so the rule could lead to the dismissal of many thousands of workers who were American citizens or legal immigrants. [NYT]

These errors are not trivial. Nearly 13 million legal workers could have lost their jobs because of errors in the database:

Some businesses welcomed the rule because it clarified what they had to do to avoid immigration raids. But the labor unions cited a report from the inspector general of the Social Security Administration finding that 12.7 million of the records of United States citizens in the agency’s database contained errors that could lead to them being fired. (emphasis added) [NYT]

The immigration authorities are zealots.

Estimates vary, but there are probably only about 6 million undocumented migrants working in the US today. So, DHS was willing to threaten 12.7 million legal jobs in the hopes of penalizing 6 million undocumented workers!

Now, remind me again, who's trying to take jobs away from Americans?


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Great post Lindsay!!

I get your point but you do some fine weaving and ducking and bobbing to avoid on way to the "victory", just avoiding the harder and inevitable question:

Just when and how will be better start enforcing labor laws to weed out the illegal (undocumented) workers?

I think for the good majority, there's no question it needs to happen. And the sooner the better.

Sad the SS records are in such disarray, but I really don't see any big victory worth celebrating. From my pov, this is a sad story overall. Doing the right thing in the present, but geez, don't you wish we could enforce the laws and control our own country's borders?

Must be the German love of order in me that sees the sadness in the story here.

whoops, out-of-order words:

Just when and how will we be better able to start enforcing labor laws...

I just hate to see so many employers get away with hiring illegals, and exploiting America's open borders for cheaper labor costs.

That's the die-hard liberal's dilemma:
they have sympathy for the illegals, but should that conflict with their support for legal immigrants who play by the rules, American labor who don't benefit by the influx, and mostly, lining the pockets of those employers who would exploit the country by encouraging the illegal migration, yet not willing to pay their social costs.

Also, I wonder if that 6 million figure includes private households hiring illegal labor, or just the actual "businesses" maybe choosing to close their eyes. I'm thinking 6 million workers seems awfully low, even if you consider many of the women start on the motherhood track very quickly once here...

The immigration authorities are zealots.

Lol. Not that there's anything inherently wrong with that?

If the Social Security database is so rife with errors it cannot be used to establish the identities of the workers whose contribution to their pensions and disability insurance it's supposed to be tracking, it seems to me there is a huge problem here that has nothing to do with immigration. And it appears Homeland Security is more interested in finding a "work around" so they can deport undocumented aliens without relying on the database than anyone else is interested in fixing it.

Mmm, irony. Have some on toast, it's delicious.

Judge Breyer is staying an ICE policy...because a different federal agency (the SSA) has record-keeping practices that make the DHS' comedy of errors look relatively limited and benign.

'Project chicken' is the name of this game when it's played within a product development group. Go to the meeting with the division VP and swear that my group's work output is on the schedule and ready to roll on time. Let the chicken take all the heat for HIS group failing to meet the deadline. Whoever tells the truth loses.

Heads will roll, but not the right heads.

I've never understood this "liberals' dilemma" people talk about. First of all, the laws are so messed up that I understand completely why people don't play by the rules. The rules desperately need to be fixed.

As for the driving down of wages, the enemy of the worker isn't other workers. It's employers. Pitting the lower economic classes against each other and turning them into enemies isn't helpful at all. Much better than wringing our hands about the immigrants coming in and taking American jobs--which, by the way, they don't. Immigrants won't leave their familes, their homes and the only life they've ever known for a place with high unemployment rates. They migrate to areas where workers are already in high demand. But I digress. Instead of talking about employers hiring undocumented workers, we should be talking about unions.

Unionize everyone. Documented, undocumented, Anglo, Latino, unionize them all and bargain for decent wages for everyone. Unionize the workers and teach them their rights-yes, undocumented migrants have rights-so that they aren't forced to work in dangerous conditions. There have been great strides by the Immokalee Farmworkers Union and it's not because they fought amongst themselves and told Taco Bell to start checking Social Security numbers. It's because they unionized, and everyone worked together.

I suggest you watch "On The Waterfront..." and get back to us.

Off Topic:

Watched 3 episodes of The Wire, back to back. I'm hooked, I'm a junkie...

Skilled union workers don't want to be lumped in with illegal/undocumented newcomers willing to work for pennies in dangerous and unsafe conditions. It drives down the quality of life.

Of course it's the employers to blame for encouraging jobs for illegals. It's not due to high employment in those packing plants, etc. It's due to employers in that area encouraging the illegals to come in and be hired. (remember Grapes of Wrath?)

That's why I don't understand Lindsey's seeming glee that that we can't enforce labor laws against these employers. We know who's losing, but look at who's winning. (hint: I don't think it's the illegal immigrants popping NoDoze and working 3 jobs to make it here. OFten the promises don't equal the realities once you're in, and if you came illegally, you don't have much cause for complaint. They really got you then. I suspect many would have fared better healthwise staying home in rural poverty.

The sooner we can enforce the labor and immigration laws, and stem the flow of those entering illegally, the sooner things look up for those who do get in. Otherwise, I have a feeling the employers are just laughing at our willingness to tolerate the numbers coming in, based on our humanitarian concerns and pretty thoughts that their lives will automatically be improved here in America.

Sure, you might say that's the immigrant's choice to make -- to come in or stay home. The LEGAL immigrant. Workers here with no rights, no papers, no way of easily returning home are rather compliant and generally do as they're told. That helps the businesses looking to cut corners, but harms all workers and consumers overall -- depending on what it is they are being asked to do for the business.

First of all, the laws are so messed up that I understand completely why people don't play by the rules.

So you must view those immigrants who do play by the rules, and all those businesses who don't hire undocumented workers as... SUCKAHS!!?

If you come in not playing by the rules from the get go, what are the odds you are going to assimilate yourself to American ways, or have much respect for the other rules of law (ie/driving and insurance laws) necessary to maintain the American way of life.

When others immigrants came, they were welcomed and helped to grow into American societies. If you're here illegally, you're going to hide out -- probably in communities with others of your kind -- and not have much of a shot at reaching out to opportunities because of the risk.

If America allegedly needs low-skilled workers and soldiers so badly, the answer isn't in permitting them in illegally. Legal v. illegal makes all the difference in the world in terms of attitude and exploitation. And amnesty for those who didn't follow the rules in the first place is no answer, sadly. It's just going to make things harder down the line when raids and deportations come about. Then they'll have to decide whether to split the family, or allow the American citizen children to stay here legally in hopes of a better life.

Like I said, a sad story and delaying the inevitable is even sadder. It's like the illegal immigrant children brought here young, who are shut out of federal financing for college or anything really that requires a valid SSnumber. We need to enforce our immigration/labor laws without delay to advoid putting them in situations like that -- good enough to work here and be exploited, but that's about all.

Mary, you have so much to share on this topic, perhaps you could post 500 words about the immigration policies of 1924 and 1965, which is when we got into this fine mess.

You're so confused about how things used to be, you're not even wrong.

One fact that might rattle around in your demagoguery until it knocks loose an insight: Half of the 12 million-some immigrants who are currently not in legal status came into the country legally.

Of those, some don't know that their status has lapsed, while others are deliberately taking their chances. Of course, among those who know their status has lapsed is an unknown number of people who never broke any law, but whose papers got screwed up by INS/ICE.

How does that inform your thoughts? Are they all exploited lawbreakers regardless?

You are write to criticize my comment about rules. I phrased that badly. What I meant was that our immigration system is very messed up. Our laws are confusing, our laws are filled with unconscionable delays, our laws are not helpful to anyone. I dislike this attitude that illegal means illegal and people should just abide by the law because our laws are horrible, are not useful and need to be overhauled. There are also so many delays that many people are out of status while they're going through the process. This means they're "illegal" even though they'd done everything correctly on their end. And, when it comes to all that, I completely agree that this is, in actuality, a very sad story. It does not speak well of our government when a law or policy, even one I disagree with, is set aside because of how many errors their are in our system.

The other aspect to it, though, is that many of the undocumented immigrants are desperate and trying to join up with family who is already here, or make money to send back to their starving family back home, and dont' feel that they have time to wait for the 5000 low-skill work visas that are available each year. I have trouble faulting people for trying to give their kids a better life. And they go through a lot for it--crossing the desert or saving up to pay coyotes is not taking the easy way out. The current laws are horribly broken and completely unjust. They don't help anyone, and they need to be overhauled.

As to the unions, how do you think unions started? In the industrialized factories that were hiring low-skilled, desperate workers, usually immigrants, willing to work for pennies in dangerous conditions. But they got together and changed that, like the Coalition for the Immokalee Workers (, the Service Emplyees International Union (, and UNITE Here ( are trying to do today. And as to the current undocumented workers, they're not all working for pennies, you know. At the Smith plants that were recently raided, workers were paid $10-$15 an hour. Not great, but a livable wage most places.

And as to the current undocumented workers, they're not all working for pennies, you know. At the Smith plants that were recently raided, workers were paid $10-$15 an hour.

Good point, and one that leads to the real issue. It's not that citizens or legal immigrants won't do the jobs, it's that only people without papers will tolerate the safety and health conditions that are most profitable to the meatpacking industry.

The strike in the 80s was against Hormel, I think, and when it broke the meatpackers' unions never recovered. Hence today's intolerable production standards, hence the use of undocumented workers.

That's the part Mary is right about, it's just that the solution is to fund the USDA's meat inspection program, not to deport millions of workers who were attracted to the wage.

perhaps you could post 500 words about the immigration policies of 1924 and 1965, which is when we got into this fine mess.

You're so confused about how things used to be, you're not even wrong.

Sorry, do your own homework.

My father immigrated pre-1965, and had sponsors here in terms of family.

He was disappointed with the 1965 reforms which limited the numbers of immigrants coming from his own country, for more the "variety" package.

Allowing untold, uncounted numbers of illegals -- those working and those not -- particularly of one ethnicity, and not an English speaking one at that, is social disasters waiting to happen. See So Florida after the hurricans hit, and the local officials there had no idea how many human lives they had living in their communities to account for and provide for in times of disaster.

We've got to have an accurate count. We've got to limit the numbers that clump into what is the word? Banthuses... or little segregated etnic chunks because they are hiding, here illegally.

How can you assimilate that? They need English, education, and sadly, it's not LOW SKILLED immigrants we should be encouraging to come.

You mean well, but it's the employers that benefit. Now go, do you own research and think about who is paying for the newcomers here and all the disservice you're doing them by looking the other way and encouraging them to come here without proper paperwork or authorization.

"Illegals" is not a word, much less a noun.

And Mary, why should we take your word for it. Produce your parent's papers.

Actuall mudkitty, it is a word and a noun.

"Illegal" is defined as an illegal immigrant, so "Illegals" would be the plural.

And Mary, why should we take your word for it. Produce your parent's papers.

My father, and the rest of the family, has absolutely no problems with presenting legal paperwork upon hire. We're glad the labor laws are enforced equally for all new hires.

And we're exceptionally good at our English skills as well. Ditto B-Money above.

(Now can you understand why LEGAL immigrants are harmed when we permit the mass influx of illegals? You make assumptions like above, and try to lump all newcomers into that suspicious class. It's not helpful. Like admitting minority students t universities with lower academic standards -- everybody then assumes that every minority "got in" based on special treatment. Not true.)

Actually bmoney, it's not a noun, it's a coinaige, it's collquialism, it's not a noun in the classical sense.

Mary, why should we take you word for it? Scan your families papers, and give us a link.

>it's not a noun, it's a coinaige, it's collquialism, it's not a noun in the classical sense.

This is in English, but it's not sense in the classical sense.

Mary, why should we take you word for it? Scan your families papers, and give us a link.

Yeah, let me know first how much the job pays and the benefits/conditions we'll be working under.

It's not like we don't have other options and need to take the first employment offer that comes around. You know big exploiters like you taking charge, telling us what to do because you think we have no papers and need to rely on you "helpful" types.

Thanks, but no thanks. Lucky to have legal options; glad they enforce the labor laws in this country.

mudkitty, you know you are wronf but you refuse to admit it.

n. An illegal immigrant.

See the little "n"? That means NOUN! Goof. But I am sure you will find something to say about that now.

"Mary, why should we take you word for it? Scan your families papers, and give us a link."

Are you serious? Who the fuck are you to demand someone produce anything? This is a blog, not Ellis Island. Asking someone to produce personal docs on a public website? Are you retarded or just plain stupid? Unbelievable...


I think she was trying to make a point, in her uber-liberal way.

See, lots of times they mean well, and think they are helping protect the broad category of newcomers. But by playing fast and loose with the rules, you end up helping the "favored" while those who don't want help -- only want to know the clear rules so they can play by them and work their way up/in by their own efforts (no special help needed) are stymied.

Sadly, the uber liberals don't think much of this group because, I think, their "benevolence" is lost. Some just want to compete fair and square, even with the disadvantages that come with being a newcomer. Equal opportunity, not special help.

Teach a man to fish, not "have him reliant on the liberals for life because without them, he'd not eat." In the end, it might be tougher, but it's better not to be too reliant on others for fair wages, safe conditions, and the opportunity to walk away and seek better elsewhere. You know, ambition and the American way... by the rules.

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