By Jena Baker McNeil
On Thursday, July 9, 2009, the U.S. Senate approved an amendment, as part of the DHS appropriations bill, to stop the Department of Homeland Security from rolling back Social Security No-Match–which helps ensure that employers are not employing illegal immigrants. The Obama Administration had announced plans Wednesday to rescind No-Match, and place instead greater emphasis on the use of E-Verify in workplace immigration enforcement. Sen. Sessions also won an amendment that would make E-Verify permanent and mandatory. This amended bill still has to pass the overall Senate, but it is a good step forward in terms of maintaining immigration enforcement efforts.
The Obama Administration, for its part, has attempted to portray this move as getting in the way of ‘real progress’ on immigration. In reality, rescinding No-Match is quite the opposite of real progress. Social Security No-Match was put in place during the Bush Administration in order to assist in workplace enforcement. No match letters are sent when an employer hires new workers whose personal information (e.g. name and Social Security number) does not match SSA records. Based on these letters, employers are supposed to take certain steps to either resolve the matter. Heritage Foundation experts Cully Stimson and Andrew Grossman go over this process in detail in their Backgrounder, No-Match Immigration Enforcement: Time for Action. No-Match (like many government regulations) has undergone litigation and was enjoined by the courts. But the Obama Administration has chosen to abandon it instead of ensuring its implementation. The Administration claims that E-Verify is going to reign in workplace enforcement. But this seems contrary to its opposition to the Sessions E-Verify amendment that would make E-Verify permanent. And while E-Verify is certainly a vital element in this process, it can’t be the end of the road for workplace enforcement– E-Verify currently isn’t mandatory, DHS will be doing a lot less enforcement absent No-Match, not more.
Enforcing immigration in the workplace is only one part of a real solution to immigration. The Administration’s recent actions beg the question- what is the Obama Administration’s plan for immigration? There has been more than rumblings that it plans to pressure Congress to take up a comprehensive or ‘amnesty’ bill this fall. But there has been a lot of skepticism, mostly centered on the notion that the American public simply will not support such a move. And for good reason, the economy is in the tank, and the thought of a costly amnesty does not sit well on the minds, or the wallets of most Americans.