DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano is tentatively scheduled to testify before the United States Senate Judiciary Committee about DHS immigration enforcement policies on May 6, 2009. Given Secretary Napolitano’s novel interpretations of federal law, the Heritage Foundation will be posting a series of questions (and suggested answers) for the Secretary. Past questions can be found here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

Does the Obama Administration support the use of Social Security Administration’s no-match data?

The federal government via the Social Security Administration (SSA) mails out no-match letters when information provided by employers does not match data in the SSA database. Most SSA no-match letters get issued in response to illegal immigrants. SSA should be authorized and directed to share the no-match data with DHS. This would allow DHS to target its enforcement efforts on large-scale abusers. The data also contain information showing that multiple people are using some Social Security numbers–an indication of people using identity theft to work.

Over 7 million unauthorized workers fill Ameri­can jobs. The Social Security Administration’s no-match letters already reach the employers of mil­lions of these unauthorized workers, but many do not know what specific steps they should take in response to a no-match letter or that they may face penalties for simply ignoring it. DHS’s new safe-harbor rule gives the existing law teeth by inform­ing employers of their obligations and stating DHS’s intent to hold employers to them while pro­viding a simple, straightforward process for employers to comply with the law and eliminate the legal uncertainty that they now face.

Moving forward on no-match letters now could make a difference for years. The talkers have done their part, and now it is time for the doers at DHS to act.

For more Heritage research on Social Security no-match data, check out Charles Stimson and Andrew Grossman’s Legal Memorandum, No-Match Immigration Enforcement: Time for Action.