Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

August 31, 2007

The Mailman Cometh: E-Verify, No-Match, and Other Immigration Developments Short of Legislation

Filed under: Border Security,Legal Issues — by Jonah Czerwinski on August 31, 2007

Letters from the Department of Homeland Security will start being mailed out the day after Labor Day (nice touch) to warn employers of the ~ 8 million workers in the U.S. that they must fire any employee without a valid Social Security number or risk criminal charges and fines. 

DHS Secretary Chertoff and Commerce Secretary Gutierrez announced on August 16 a series of border security and immigration measures under the titles e-Verify and Social Security No-Match rule.  The measures are intended to improve worksite enforcement and enhance current guest worker programs, among other things.  The Administration has described these efforts as the next best alternative to legislation that would have reformed several immigration polices had any legislation passed. 


The e-Verify program enables employers to check the work status of their employees online. The-Verify system compares information taken from the I-9 work eligibility verification form and matches it against the Social Security Administration’s database and the DHS immigration databases. The Social Security No-Match rule instructs an employer how to respond to a no-match letter from the Social Security Administration regarding an employee whose name and SSN do not match government records.  A mismatch can imply wrongdoing on the part of either the employee or the employer.  The new rule is intended to reduce fraudulent use of Social Security numbers for the purposes of gaining or providing jobs to illegal immigrants. 

An Administration Fact Sheet on this development is available here. 

The business community gave very tepid support to the Administration’s comprehensive immigration reform efforts when they were not flat out opposing it.  The enforcement of “E-Verify” is among the more invasive measures in the announcement.  This is the most recent incarnation of the Basic Pilot and the Employment Eligibility Verification System (EEVS).  E-Verify affects employers significantly by placing the burden on them to know whether they are in violation of the law and to take measures that either confirm an employee’s legal status (via the SSN) or unemploy those who are not legal or unable to prove their status.   

The E-Verify system will be a portal through which employers may submit an employee’s SSN and other identifiers (name, etc) to match against the Social Security Administration’s records.  If the SSA returns a “No-Match” letter, employers are required to cease employment within 90 days or face fines 25% higher than previously.  The E-Verify system is said to be challenged by an error rate ranging from 4%-11%.  The Administration’s plan calls for E-Verify to begin with all 200,000 federal contractors before expanding to states.  Even with this initial tier, the error rate risks significant false positives leading to inefficiencies for employers, unnecessary hardship for workers wrongly identified as unemployable, and the risk of legal challenges.  The immigration reform bill included a redress or repeal process, but it is unclear how E-Verify is prepared in this regard. 

The following table was created by Maggio Kattar, a law firm usually hired by the private sector to help them navigate immigration restrictions.  The table illustrates the no-match procedures and prescribed timeframes:


Final Rule

Employer receives letter from SSA or DHS indicating mismatch of employees name and social security number.

Day 1

Employer checks own records, makes any necessary corrections of errors and verifies corrections with SSA or DHS.

1-30 Days

If necessary, employer notifies employee and asks employee to assist in correction.

1-90 Days

If necessary, employer corrects own records and verifies correction with SSA or DHS.

1-90 Days

If necessary, employer performs special I-9 procedure.

91-93 Days

According to this framework, affected employees may continue to be employed. However, once an employer discovers that an employee is unemployable under the no-match procedure, the employer must terminate employment or face fines. 

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Comment by William R. Cumming

September 6, 2007 @ 2:38 am

Notice that the system described is premised on a “valid” Social Security number. Many illegal aliens use an alias and obtain a Social Security card in that name. This system fails to detect that common mechanism for both complying with the need for a card and avoiding detection. Documents submitted to Social Security are often fraudulent and a black market exists in those documents in all major US cities. What do we know about how Social Security staffs, and processes Social Security card requests to verify the applicants immigration status? Is the function a program, function, or activity for Social Security now an independent agency and is that a line item in the budget of the SSA?

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