A group of House Democrats wrote the Social Security Administration (SSA) demanding the retraction of an order that reinstated Employer Correction Request Notices, also known as “no-match” letters. The letters inform employers that information reported on an employee’s W-2 form does not match SSA’s records. While the letters are intended to give employers a chance to clear up typos in an employee’s name or Social Security number, they also expose instances of illegal aliens using fake IDs or stolen identities to get a job. 

SSA started send the letters in 1993 but did not establish regulatory procedures requiring employers to follow up until 2007. Those Bush Administration procedures required employers to fire employees who had mismatches that could not be cleared up. Business groups immediately sued to overturn the rule and persuaded a judge to block it. The Bush Administration terminated no-match letters in 2007 and rescinded the regulation in 2009. In 2011, the Obama Administration restarted no-match letters without the termination requirement but discontinued them in 2012.

The Trump Administration issued an order reinstating the letters in March of this year. The new no-match program is similar to Obama's but more expansive. The former only sent letters to employers who had 10 or more employees with discrepancies. Trump's policy is to inform every employer about every discrepancy in the SSA database.

SSA’s website contains an example of the new no-match letter. It does not include the names of employees with mismatched information. It instead directs an employer to establish an online account and determine which employee’s information needs to be reconciled. The employer must compare the information online to the company’s employment records and correct any typographical errors within 60 days. If the issue is not typographical, the employer asks the employee to correct his/her records with SSA. It does not require the employer to fire an employee who refuses. However, when no-match letters were issued in the past, it typically resulted in the resignation of those who used fake IDs or stolen identities to get the job.

Corporate Counsel interviewed one immigration attorney who warned that the letters “are coming out in very large volumes…I’ve had a lot of [client-] employers very nervous because of what this may lead to.” He said SSA can share no-match information with Homeland Security Investigations and turn the matter into an enforcement issue. “This is a clear warning to employers that if they aren’t maintaining their I-9s, they should be.” He said ICE asks for no-match letters in the context of an I-9 audit and uses them to establish that employers had constructive knowledge of employing illegal aliens.

46 House Democrats, led by Rep. Jesús García (D-Ill.), wrote acting SSA Commissioner Nancy Berryhill alleging that no-match letters are being revived as part of the Administration's crackdown on illegal immigration. Their real purpose, Garcia said, is to out employers that hire illegal aliens. He suggested the effort will divert “resources away from frontline workers whose primary mission is administering benefits" and should be terminated.
Garcia told The Hill, "Other than to instill fear and to add to the series of attacks that have come down against the immigrant community, this is one more tool in their arsenal, I think, to drive the community into the shadows of society...We want to let the community know that this is a much larger problem…Part of the reason we have gone public in this way with 45 signatures by members so far, is we believe this issue will mushroom in the following days and weeks in communities that have immigrant populations."

Read more in The Hill and National Law Review.

Updated: Fri, May 17th 2019 @ 1:15pm EDT