When the US tightens the screws on its 12 million or so undocumented workers, Canadians should pay close attention.
The US Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) recently implemented an initiative to smoke out its illegals. Since its southern border is far too porous to prevent illegal workers from crossing into the US, the DHS decided to put pressure on the employers who provide the illegals with the jobs that attracted them to the US.
The DHS set its sights on the Social Security Administrations’ (“SSA”) Earnings Suspense File which contains 225 million records in which a workers name and their social security numbers do not match. These records tend to grow at a rate of 8-11 million per year and involve about 8 million individual employees.
Simple logic led the DHS to conclude that most, but not all, of these employees must be illegal aliens who provided false or borrowed social security numbers to their employers.
DHS then tried to take advantage of a 1986 law which made American employers liable to criminal and civil liability for knowingly hiring or continuing to employ unauthorized aliens.
In August 2006, DHS proposed a policy which would include the issuance of “No-match letters” to employers when their records reveal a discrepancy. Basically, the employer would have to clear up the discrepancy with the employee within 90 days. If the employer is unwilling or unable to clear up the discrepancy within that time and continues to employ that worker, the employer may be considered to have “constructive knowledge” of the employee’s unlawful status. This would expose the employer to criminal and/or civil sanction under the 1986 law mentioned above. If on the other hand, the employer terminates the employee, they would be protected from wrongful-dismissal claims by the “safe-harbor” provisions of the policy.
Over the past year, the DHS received 5,000 separate submissions from various groups on its proposal. On August 15, 2007, the DHS issued its final ruling on the proposal and was set to implement it right away.
The SSA was about to release 140,000 no-match letters when an injunction was brought to the US District Court of Northern California by the American Federation of Labor (AFL-CIO). Although unions have historically protected their turfs by resisting the entry of any foreign workers, the times have most definitely changed. The AFL-CIO demonstrated that the DHS’ proposed mailings would identify approximately 600,000 of its members with mismatched social security numbers.
On Wednesday, a San Francisco Judge Charles Breyer issued a temporary injunction against DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff and others on the grounds that the Earnings Suspense File admittedly contained some errors which could lead to the unlawful dismissal of certain employees.
US politicians are already clamoring for legislation to overcome this ruling.
If 8-12 million illegals are suddenly dismissed in the US from their jobs, they will look elsewhere to make a living. Everyone knows that when the US sneezes, we in Canada almost always catch a cold.