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You are doing a heck of a job, Mike!

October 24, 2008 - Posted by Ali Noorani

During a period of time where the electorate (which includes a whole bunch of new citizens, by the way) is worried about a severe credit crisis, the lack of health insurance, and a looming recession, the Department of Homeland Security decides to throw a little fuel on an immigration debate that everyone seems to have forgotten about.

Thursday’s release of a final administrative rule regarding “no-match” letters is opposed from all corners of our economy. The so called “no-match” rule turns an advisory letter issued by the Social Security Administration – designed to ensure that individuals paying into the Social Security system are properly credited for their work – into a tool for tracking down undocumented workers.

Inaccurate databases, human error, and failure to report name changes can all contribute to the “no-match” problem, but this new rule is likely to turn all no-match letters into scarlet letters, leading to unnecessary dismissals and possible discriminatory hiring practices.

Given our country’s rapidly unraveling economy, measures that further weaken businesses and threaten the economic security of our nation and of legitimate workers – native and immigrant worker alike – are bizarre.

The Administration was under no legal obligation to issue these regulations. In fact, the initial rules were contested in court.

Recent news reports and Congressional hearings have uncovered scandals in the immigration enforcement agency’s handling of its charges, pointing to the need for greater accountability. Instead, both Congress and the administration are loosening the reins—Congress, by giving ICE buckets and buckets of new taxpayer dollars, and now the administration, by finalizing a policy that will be hazardous to our economic health and by dragging the Social Security Administration into the fray.

It is clear the Bush administration is determined to continue tightening the screws on immigrants with new deportation-only initiatives, using its last few months in office to put regulations in place that will make it that much more difficult for a new administration to tackle immigration in a straightforward and reasonable way.

The next administration and Congress should move quickly to help America get back on its feet by enacting immigration reform that is fiscally responsible, creates genuine security for communities, and leads to rational regulation of immigration. The no-match rule makes no contribution to those objectives and should be overturned before it disrupts the economy even further.

In the meantime, someone over at DHS needs to read a newspaper and see what is happening in the real world.

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