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New DHS rules may not persuade court to allow no-match letters

WASHINGTON A National Restaurant Association official said labor groups that won an injunction against the Department of Homeland Security last year believe its newly revised final rules for "no-match" letters may not satisfy the court that blocked the government from threatening employers with penalties for unresolved records discrepancies.

DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff is scheduled to ask for a lifting of the injunction when the court takes up the case again Nov. 21.

DHS's original August 2007 no-match plan signaled the Bush administration's intent to use employers to crack down on immigration violations by forcing businesses to fire workers who could not correct Social Security account discrepancies within 90 days of a notice from the Social Security Administration.

Late last year a U.S. District Court blocked the letters, ruling that inaccuracies in the SSA's database could cause legitimate workers to be fired because the 90-day deadline facing employers was too short, and because DHS ignored a law requiring that new regulations be weighed against their potential impact on small businesses.

Immigration law specialists at Greenberg Traurig LLP, a Washington, D.C.-based law firm that has advised the NRA on the matter, say the DHS's new final rules contain only one technical change: the elimination of a five-day window in which employers would have to notify a worker that an internal records review had been completed.

John Gay, the NRA's senior vice president of government affairs and public policy, said the plaintiffs and their legal backers -- including the AFL-CIO and the American Civil Liberties Union -- expect the court to still find fault with the regulations.

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