Phoenix – Hundreds of immigrant laborers nationwide who can’t prove they are in the United States legally are being forced to quit their jobs after their employers receive what are known as no-match letters from the Social Security Administration (SSA).
No-match letters are sent out when the SSA detects discrepancies between its records and the information provided by employees on their W-2 tax forms.
In some cases, however, the discrepancies are due to administrative or date-entry errors.
The SSA announced earlier this year that it would resume the practice of sending no-match letters to employers after a seven-year hiatus.
Out of fear of being hit with federal sanctions, employers receiving the letters have chosen to do a “cleanup” of their labor forces.
“These measures put employers in an alarming situation, since they depend on a workforce of thousands of immigrants to keep their businesses operative at a time of high employment,” immigration activist and analyst Carmen Cornejo told EFE
Speaking on condition of anonymity, the owner of a furniture store in Phoenix said that he sought legal advice after receiving no-match letters.
“Nobody wants problems with the federal government – I only wanted to know what my responsibilities were. You can’t just go ahead and fire people, you first have to give them the chance to prove they are working here legally,” the businessman told EFE.
Sofia Andrade lived through all those problems when she worked at a company that prepared salads. She said her boss suddenly told a group of them that they had four days to prove they were here legally and so keep their jobs.
“They told us at a meeting about a message they got from immigration – the boss said they asked him for a list of names of all the workers together with their Social Security (numbers),” Andrade told EFE.
“Close to 40 of us had to quit our jobs,” she said.
Now, she added, she has to work in a carpentry shop with a pay of $11 per hour under “very tough” conditions.
“The work is very hard, the boss is abusive because at times we work 13-hour days and don’t get paid for all the extra time…but I have to put up with it because I don’t have my papers,” Andrade said.
This year President Donald Trump’s administration has been sending more than 570,000 no-match letters to companies all over the country, The New York Times reported.
Cornejo said she often receives calls from workers asking for advice on the dismissals, which they consider “unjustified.”
She said that those letters are causing companies a bout of anxiety, principally those in the hotel, agriculture and construction industries, the sectors most affected by the measure.
Critics say the reactivation of the letters is part of the hard line of the Republican administration’s immigration policies.
“This has been completely planned – the government’s actions are deliberate and are on the rise. This is not just business as usual, but the government is demanding an ever greater number of cases,” Cornejo said.