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Trump admin wrote 570,000 employers to say workers likely undocumented: NYT

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President Donald Trump’s administration has revived the dormant immigration practice of writing to employers to warn them that their workers’ names and social security numbers don’t match, The New York Times reported.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) has mailed “no-match letters” to more than 570,000 employers since March this year, the Times said.

These letters notify employers who submitted W-2 tax forms — which contain employees’ names and social security numbers — if those combinations don’t match. Reasons for these discrepancies can be innocuous, like marital name changes and typos on forms, but also be an indication of undocumented status.

Adolfo Rodriguez Lopez, 41, has never returned to Mexico to visit his wife and four sons in Ensenada, Mexico, during the 12 years he has lived in the United States.
Gus Ruelas/Reuters

No-match letters do not require employers to take action against the employee, but instruct them to correct the mismatch within 60 days, according to Bloomberg Law.

Here’s an example of a no-match letter as shown on the SSA’s website.

The SSA started sending these letters in 1993, stopped doing so in 2012, then restarted the practice this March.

Though the no-match letters do not threaten any legal action, employers are left in limbo as they have to choose between losing workers and potentially being punished by federal immigration authorities in the future.

Read more: State and FBI investigators are reportedly probing allegations that Trump’s golf club gave fake green cards to undocumented workers

An American flag flutters in the wind next to signage for a United States Social Security Administration office in Burbank, California.
Reuters/Fred Prouser

It is not clear at this point whether the SSA will share the data mismatches with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Business Insider has contacted the SSA for comment.

There were about 7.8 million unauthorized workers in the US civilian workforce in 2016, according to Pew Research. There are currently 162 million people in the US workforce, of which 156 million are employed, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported last month.

Though the exact reason for the revival of the no-match letters is not clear, experts say it appears to be part of Trump’s increasingly hardline approach toward immigration.

Jesus “Chuy” Garcia at a rally in Chicago, Illinois, in January 2015.
Jim Young/Reuters

Forty-six Democratic lawmakers wrote a letter to the SSA earlier this month calling on it to stop writing the letters.

Rep. Jesús “Chuy” García, the Democratic representative for Illinois who organized the letter, told The Hill earlier this month: “Other than to instill fear and to add to the series of attacks that have come down against the immigrant community … this is one more tool in their arsenal, I think, to drive the community into the shadows of society, to create more anti-immigrant sentiment in the country and just to create fear and instability in communities with large immigrant populations.”

“What’s the purpose? What’s the aim here? We think it is simply to create distrust, to advance the anti-immigrant rhetoric that’s out there,” he added.

The SSA, on the other hand, has said it is sending the letters because it is “committed to maintaining the accuracy of earnings records used to determine benefit amounts to ensure people get the benefits they have earned,” according to Bloomberg Law.

U.S. President Trump awaits arrival of Swiss Federal President Maurer at the White House in Washington
Reuters

The Trump administration on Thursday announced a plan to overhaul a large portion of the country’s immigration laws to prioritize skilled workers over family relationships.

The plan would essentially shift the US immigration system from one based on family ties to a “merit and skill” one that would prioritize highly educated and skilled workers who can demonstrate a “patriotic assimilation” into American life.

Read more: Trump’s new immigration bill is ‘dead on arrival’ — but its real value could be shoring up his immigration strategy for 2020

Lawmakers and legal experts have already derided the bill as “dead on arrival,” but administration officials have already hinted that it was to show 2020 voters what the Republican party is “for,” INSIDER’s Michelle Mark reported.

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