Thursday, May 8, 2008

Inefficiency of No-Match Program

The Immigration Policy Center has issued an important report on the problems with the SSA No-Match Program:

The Social Security Administration No-Match Program: Inefficient, Ineffective, and Costly

By Marielena Hincapié, Tyler Moran, and Michele Waslin*

Today the Immigration Policy Center unveils a new report entitled The Social Security Administration No-Match Program: Inefficient, Ineffective, and Costly.  Co-authored by Marielena Hincapié and Tyler Moran of the National Immigration Law Center and Michele Waslin of IPC, this new paper provides the most comprehensive analysis of the no-match program and the Administration's new proposed regulations to use the program as an immigration enforcement mechanism.  The new report is "one-stop shopping" for the most up-to-date research and data, including government reports and Congressional testimony, real-life examples of how no-match letters have been utilized in the past, and analysis of the impact the new regulations would have on business, workers, and the Social Security Administration (SSA).   The authors conclude that the no-match program is not the most efficient way to achieve its original objective, much less serve as an effective immigration enforcement tool. 

SSA no-match letters are sent to workers and employers in an attempt to correct discrepancies in SSA's records that prevent workers from receiving credit for their earnings.  They were not designed to be an immigration-enforcement tool, and historically they have never been used for immigration-enforcement purposes.  In fact, for years, SSA has made it clear that no-match letters are not an indication of immigration status, and that there are many legitimate reasons why a worker or employer might receive a no-match letter.  Yet, in March 2008, the Administration unveiled new proposed regulations to which would allow the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to commandeer the program for immigration enforcement purposes.

This report provides an overview of SSA's no-match letter program, a summary of DHS's new supplemental proposed rule regarding no-match letters, and an overview of the unintended consequences of no-match letters that are sent to employers.  While the new no-match rule will not, and cannot, solve the problem of undocumented immigration, experience with the no-match program over the last few years indicates that turning no-match letters into an immigration-enforcement mechanism will:

Cause the firing of employment-authorized workers and U.S. citizens at a time when our economy is highly fragile;
Impose additional costs on employers;
Result in increased discrimination and abuses against U.S. workers; and
Overwhelm SSA by diverting resources away from its primary mission of administering benefits.
* Marielena Hincapié is a Staff Attorney and the Director of Programs at the National Immigration Law Center (NILC) and Tyler Moran is the Employment Policy Director at NILC.  Michele Waslin is Senior Policy Analyst at the Immigration Policy Center. 

Contact: Angela Kelley, Director
202-507-7511 (office)
202-441-5589 (cell) 


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