In October, U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer ordered an injunction against the Department of Homeland Security's attempts to begin enforcing "no-match" letters, where an employee's Social Security number doesn't match up with their name, such as would be the case with many illegal aliens but also with some U.S. citizens who've changed their names for various reasons. A coalition of illegal immigration supporters - the AFL-CIO, ACLU, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and others - asked the judge to issue an injunction, and he obliged. They pretended they were worried about discrimination and legal workers being fired, but their past statements and actions - including the money that the U.S. CofC has received from companies that profit from illegal immigration - tend to cast a great deal of doubt on that rationale.
Now, after a long and probably unnecessary delay, the DHS has issued a new rule which is apparently the same as the original rule. They have, however, changed the explanation and now they're asking the same judge to withdraw his injunction. They're also pursuing a separate appeal. Whether either effort will succeed and whether the DHS is just going through the motions in order to avoid actually enforcing the law is not clear.
Breyer, in his Oct. 10 injunction, said the unions' prediction of wholesale firings of legal workers was plausible. He stopped short of deciding whether the proposed rule was legal, but said Homeland Security had failed to explain its reversal of a decade-old government policy of not prosecuting employers on the basis of a discrepancy in a worker's Social Security number.
In the new draft unveiled Friday, Homeland Security disputed that the rule amounted to a policy change, arguing that it had always made it clear to employers that they should investigate the reasons for no-match letters and could not simply ignore them.
But even if the rule represents a change in policy, the department said, it is justified to clear up employers' confusion about their obligations under the immigration law.