A bigger threat to businesses could come from the federal government. Business groups had urged the Department of Homeland Security to wait for immigration reform legislation before it issues a final regulation outlining what steps businesses should take when they receive letters notifying them that an employee's name and Social Security number don't match federal records. Now that Congress has punted on the issue, the department may soon implement that regulation, immigration attorneys predict.
As proposed last summer, businesses who receive these "no match" letters should follow certain steps, such as checking the accuracy of their own records and notifying the employee of the problem. If the discrepancy can't be resolved within two months, the employer must fire the employee or risk being charged with violating immigration laws.
The regulation won't "let people ignore problems that have stared them in the face before," Smith said.
Many workers who have been using fake Social Security numbers will lose their jobs, but "they're not just going to pack up their bags and go back to Mexico," Reiff said.
Many will stay in the United States and work in the underground economy instead, she predicted.
Employers should prepare for increased federal enforcement of immigration laws by going through the I-9 forms that workers fill out when they're hired and see if there are any obvious problems, Smith said. Employees whose Social Security numbers don't match federal records should be told to resolve the problem "or we've got to say adios," she said.
Does anyone have any more information about this rule--like will DHS actually implement it (and when might this decision be coming down), and will it actually change the behavior of businesses?