AFL-CIO Lawsuit: "No Match" Letter Rules Too Burdensome

August 31, 2007 ( - The largest U.S. union coalition has sued the U.S. government on Wednesday over its plan to require employers who receive "no-match" letters about the possible employment of an illegal immigrant, saying the requirement is too burdensome.

The “no match” letters from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) or the Social Security Administration (SSA) verify the employee is an illegal alien not authorized to work in the U.S.

In the suit filed in the U.S. District Court in San Francisco, the labor union federation claims that the rules violate workers’ rights and impose burdensome obligations on the employers who receive the letters.

“We’ve seen employers use these no-match letters as a union busting tool,” Ana Avendano, an AFL-CIO attorney and director of its immigrant worker program, told the Associated Press. “Employers will look at these letters, see all the new burdens, and just decide to fire people.”

The union argues that the many of the discrepancies found in the SSA database are a result of errors and typos that occur when workers are filling out tax forms for job applications, and sending out a letter to employers every time this occurs will unfairly target legal workers.

An estimated 12.7 million of the 17.8 million discrepancies in SSA’s database, over 70%, involved native-born U.S. citizens, according to a December 2006 report from the Social Security Administration’s Office of the Inspector General, the AP said.

The DHS said in a statement that the lawsuit was “an obvious attempt to impede the department’s ability to enforce our immigration laws. It is completely without merit and we intend to fight it vigorously.”

The agency unveiled the final rules regarding these letters earlier this month, which gave instructions to employers on how to avoid liability after receiving confirmation that an employee’s immigration status or employment status does not match federal agency records (See Final Rule Out on “No Match” Letters ). The letters give employers 90 days to resolve the problem.