Court Grants Temporary Restraining Order Against "No-Match" Letters

September 11, 2007 ( - The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California issued a temporary restraining order against the Department of Homeland Security's plan to require employers who receive a "no-match" letter to verify the employment and immigration status of one of their workiers.

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.The regulation  would have gone into effect September 14, 2007 and provides that employers will be liable if they fail to take “reasonable steps” within 90 days of receiving the no-match letter (See  Final Rule Out on “No Match” Letters).

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) had asked the court for the restraining order on behalf of the AFL-CIO, the National Immigration Law Center and several other labor and immigration rights organizations.

The restraining order  granted by U.S. District Judge Maxine Chesney only bars the agency from enforcing the final “no-match” letter rules until October 1; another federal judge will decide whether to issue a permanent injunction.

According to Chesney, the plaintiffs were able to demonstrate “the balance of harms tips sharply in the favor of a stay based on Plaintiffs’ showing that they and their members would suffer irreparable harm if the rule is implemented while Defendants would suffer significantly less harm from a delay in the implementation of the rule …”

The AFL-CIO filed a suit against the government August 31, contending the rules imposed too burdensome obligations on employers and that some employees will be unfairly targeted (See  AFL-CIO Lawsuit: “No Match” Letter Rules Too Burdensome ). 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.

The ACLU claims that the agencies were overstepping their authority in its attempt to use wage and tax information to enforce immigration law. Chesney said it was important for the DHS and SSA to present evidence showing the relationship between a no-match letter and “a reasonable inference that the person is here illegally.”