Immigration Enforcement Faces Setback

Devona Walker, The Oklahoman (Oklahoma City), October 2, 2007

The Social Security Administration’s plans to send out thousands of “no-match” letters were delayed again Monday, vexing foes of illegal immigration and causing mass confusion among business owners.

Thousands of “no-match” letters were intended to go out, beginning Sept. 14, to thousands of U.S. employers with workers whose names do not match their Social Security numbers. The letters would come with a U.S. Department of Homeland Security insert that stipulates it is unlawful to hire illegal immigrants and give the employer 90 days to terminate the worker.

On Monday, a U.S. District Court judge in San Francisco took under advisement several issues in the complaint against the Department of Homeland Security, and has delayed passing judgment. This effectively extends the existing restraining order, which has blocked the government from sending out the letters.

‘A powerful alliance’

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“It’s an unlikely but powerful alliance. The ethnic advocacy groups provide the racial politics to make sure everything gets polarized. The business groups provide the money and the political muscle. Together, they will make sure the laws are never enforced,” said Steve Camarata of the Center for Immigration Studies, outspoken foes of illegal immigration.

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This rule was challenged by a coalition headed by the AFL-CIO and the National Immigration Law. Within a week, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and numerous trade groups joined the ranks. Among the trade groups mentioned in the complaint are the United Fresh Produce Association, the National Roofing Contractors Association and the Association of Nursery and Landscapers.

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What’s the local response?

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Businesses are caught in the middle of changing rules, increased scrutiny and the apprehension of widescale labor shortages.

Some say “no-match” letters and HB 1804 threaten their livelihood. Others say it might level the playing field. But everyone admits to not really knowing what the government expects of them:

“It will put me out of business,” said Chris Roberts, owner of Creative Landscapes Inc. “I have been trying for years to find legal people to do the work. They are just not there.”

Roberts has raised his wages numerous times over the years, to their current rate of $15 per hour for general laborers.

Still, he continues to experience vacancies.

In Oklahoma, landscaping can be arduous, outdoor work, and willingness to do it dips during the brutal winter months and at the peak of summer temperatures.

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