- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 23, 2008

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The Homeland Security Department is appealing a judge’s ruling against its proposal to force employers to fire workers whose names don’t match their Social Security numbers.

A federal judge in San Francisco blocked the “no-match rule” in October, saying it would likely impose hardships on businesses and their workers.

Employers would incur new costs to comply with the regulation that the government hasn’t evaluated, and innocent workers unable to correct mistakes in their records in time would lose their jobs, U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer wrote in staying the initial rule, finding that unions and businesses had raised serious questions about the rule’s legality.

In a document issued on its Web site late Friday, the Homeland Security Department issued a virtually-identical rule and addressed several of the judge’s concerns, saying, among other comments, that the rule doesn’t create new legal obligations for businesses.

After the 30-day public comment period, the department said it would ask Judge Breyer to lift his injunction. The department already has asked a federal appeals court to overturn the injunction.

“It simply outlines clear steps an employer may take in response to receiving a letter from the Social Security Administration indicating that an employee’s name does not match the Social Security number on file,” the department said.

“We are serious about immigration enforcement,” Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said in a press release. “The no-match rule is an important tool for cracking down on illegal hiring practices while providing honest employers with the guidance they need.”

But the document released Friday “tries to explain away the problems the court saw last year,” said Maria Elena Hincapie, a lawyer with the National Immigration Law Center, which argued the case last year.

The AFL-CIO, the American Civil Liberties Union and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce object to the program, saying it would foster discrimination.

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