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SFGate: Judge blocks rules cracking down on employers of illegal immigrants

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  • abeltranjurisdr@aol.com
    ... This article was sent to you by someone who found it on SFGate. The original article can be found on SFGate.com here:
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 31, 2007

      This article was sent to you by someone who found it on SFGate.
      The original article can be found on SFGate.com here:
      Friday, August 31, 2007 (SF Chronicle)
      Judge blocks rules cracking down on employers of illegal immigrants
      Bob Egelko, Chronicle Staff Writer

      (08-31) 17:16 PDT SAN FRANCISCO - A federal judge in San Francisco blocked
      the Bush administration today from imposing a rule that would require
      employers to fire workers identified as illegal immigrants in government
      records or face possible prosecution.
      U.S. District Judge Maxine Chesney granted a nationwide temporary
      restraining order sought by the AFL-CIO and affiliated unions to keep the
      government from sending letters to employers demanding that they clear up
      workers' citizenship status.
      The order will be in effect until Oct. 1, when another federal judge will
      consider whether to grant an injunction that would block the rules until a
      trial on the unions' lawsuit against the government is held.
      Chesney said there was a "serious question" about whether the Bush
      administration's planned crackdown on illegal workers was authorized by
      law. She also said the government would suffer little inconvenience from a
      delay, compared with the hardship to employees who might be improperly
      identified as illegal immigrants.
      Officials had planned to send the first warning letters Tuesday and mail
      140,000 letters to employers by Nov. 9.
      Justice Department lawyer Daniel Bensing told Chesney that the government
      wanted the issue resolved before Sept. 14, when the new rule was scheduled
      to take effect, and objected to a schedule that would delay enforcement
      until at least October. But he did not indicate any intention to challenge
      the judge's order.
      Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff announced the rule Aug. 10 as
      a means of toughening the little-enforced 1986 law that subjects employers
      to criminal prosecution or civil penalties for knowingly employing illegal
      Employers now can satisfy the law if they obtain specified identification
      documents from newly hired workers. After that, the government notifies
      employers if the Social Security number on a worker's W-2 tax form doesn't
      match the number in the Social Security database. That employee may not
      have earnings credited for Social Security benefits, but no action is
      taken against the employer.
      Under the new rule, employers receiving such a "no-match" letter would
      have to fire the worker, or face possible civil fines and criminal
      penalties, if the discrepancy isn't cleared up within 90 days. The change
      would be likely to have its greatest effect in California, where several
      industries employ large numbers of undocumented workers.
      The unions argued that past experience with no-match letters shows that
      they are often sent mistakenly because of clerical errors by employers or
      the government in recording numbers, or because of name changes after a
      marriage, divorce or other innocent reasons.
      The AFL-CIO also said Social Security was never intended to be a means of
      tracking down illegal immigrants, and is so cumbersome that legal
      employees will be unable to clear up discrepancies in 90 days.
      The unions argued that the 1986 law, which prohibited employers from
      knowingly employing illegal immigrants, required only a document check for
      newly hired workers and did not authorize the government to order
      additional verification after hiring.
      Government lawyers said the new rule was consistent with the 1986 law and
      merely gave employers an additional way to resolve uncertainties about
      their employees' immigration status and avoid liability.
      At today's hearing, Chesney said her decision to block the rule didn't
      mean she thought it was necessarily illegal. But she told Bensing, who
      represented the government, that it would be important to present evidence
      showing a connection between a no-match letter and "a reasonable inference
      that the person is here illegally."
      Lawyers for the unions said they were encouraged.
      "We're confident that the rule will be struck down," said attorney Scott

      E-mail Bob Egelko at begelko@.... ----------------------------------------------------------------------
      Copyright 2007 SF Chronicle

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