About the ‘No Match’ rule

Eight million workers, both documented and undocumented, were put under threat by the No Match rule announced in August 2007 by the Department of Homeland Security. It attempted to fundamentally change the role of ‘No Match’ letters sent out by the Social Security Administration.

Starting in 1994, the annual ‘No Match’ mailing notified employers of differences between details they submitted for their workers and the SSA’s national database of social security numbers. The letters emphasized that they were seeking only to correct data and should not be seen as questioning a person’s immigration status.

However, in August 2007, the DHS attempted to bring in a new rule telling employers they must reverify details for anyone queried. The DHS threatened massive fines if companies didn’t fire any worker unable to resolve the problem within 90 days.

This move came despite an estimated 17.8 million errors in the database, most of them affecting U.S. citizens.

The new rule was challenged both on the streets and in federal court by labor and civil rights groups who drew attention to the dramatic and damaging impact it would have – and its implementation was blocked by an October 2007 ruling. DHS was instructed by the judge to review the rule in three key areas.

However, in March 2008, the DHS republished the rule without change and made clear it intended to try and bulldoze through any further legal obstacles.

As legal wrangling continued, the Obama administration inherited the issue and, in August 2009, announced a proposal to abandon the No-Match rule. This took full effect in November 2009.

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