Skip to comments.Social Security Checks Called 'Silent Raid' On Illegals
Posted on 07/14/2002 3:28:24 PM PDT by Tancredo Fan
Social Security Checks Called 'Silent Raid' On Illegals
Sunday, July 14, 2002
BY DAWN HOUSE (c) 2002, THE SALT LAKE TRIBUNE
The 30-year-old Mexican immigrant fights back tears as he talks about what awaits his family now that he has been fired from his job because his Social Security number didn't match federal records.
"There is nothing there for us," says the Salt Lake City man as he puts his arm around his daughter and talks about his possible deportation to Mexico.
The former welder is among the 500 to 700 Mexican nationals who have contacted their country's consulate in Salt Lake City this year for help after receiving notices from bosses that they have been or will be fired because their Social Security numbers are invalid.
"The number is astounding," Mexican Consul Martin Torres said of the calls.
"Unfortunately, we must tell people that if their documentation is improper, there is nothing we can do except make sure that employers do not take advantage of the situation, that they pay whatever wages are owing."
The Utah cases appear to be a small manifestation of what Angela Kelly, deputy director of the National 15 Immigration Forum, fears is -- in effect, if not intent -- a nationwide crackdown on illegal immigration.
So far this year, the Social Security Administration has mailed 750,000 letters to the nation's employers that said some of their workers' names and Social Security numbers didn't match the federal database. The number of "no match" letters sent out this year is up dramatically from the 110,000 sent out last year, according to Social Security spokesman Mark Lassiter. He said the initiative is simply part of a longtime effort to catch mistakes that could deprive U.S. workers of Social Security benefits.
"Concerns about national security, along with the growing problem of identity theft, have caused us to accelerate our efforts," Social Security Commissioner Jo Anne Barnhart said last month.
But Kelly said the stepped-up effort amounts to "a silent raid against undocumented workers."
"This is a high stakes policy that the Bush administration is pursuing," she said. "It doesn't take a rocket scientist to know a lot of the people with invalid Social Security numbers are working here illegally. This will have a ripple effect that people across the country will feel."
It is estimated that 8 million to 14 million workers in the United States are undocumented, including 4 million Mexican nationals.
"The initiative is not about undocumented workers," said Bill Bates, Social Security Western states employer liaison officer. "It's about eligible workers getting all the money that is rightfully coming to them."
The Social Security Administration cannot match 7 million to 10 million numbers, he said.
The Social Security form letter clearly states the information should not be used as the basis for discrimination or firing, and that it is not a determination of an employee's immigration status. Marital name changes or even typographical errors can result in mismatches.
The Social Security Administration has no enforcement powers, and it cannot share information with the Immigration and Naturalization Service -- but the IRS can. Under Section 6721 of the Internal Revenue Code, employers can be fined $50 for each invalid Social Security number, up to $250,000 a year.
IRS representatives in Denver and Washington, D.C., refused numerous times to comment on whether the agency is stepping up enforcement against employers whose workers have invalid numbers on tax forms, except to say that fines have been imposed in the past. But employers -- many of whom never received notifications before -- are taking the notices seriously.
At a May meeting of the American Payroll Association in San Antonio, Jerry Michael, chief of the IRS Information Branch, "shocked the audience by saying that these penalties would actually be applied" against employers whose W-2 forms have mismatched names and Social Security numbers, according to a newsletter from the 21,000-member group.
Tom Burger, IRS program manager for employment taxes, was also quoted as saying that penalties would start for the 2002 tax year and that employers could expect IRS notices by mid-2004.
IRS spokesman Jesse Weller would not confirm the report and refused to comment on the issue.
But Norm Goldstein, a Social Security senior financial executive who attended the Texas conference, said that "while what may have been quoted in the newsletter was accurate, the individuals' comments may have been premature." He would not elaborate.
In June, Social Security Employer Liaison Officer Bill Brees told 250 attorneys at the American Immigration Lawyers Association's meeting in San Francisco that the IRS will be conducting follow-up investigations of mismatched Social Security numbers, said panel moderator Nancy Jo Merritt. Brees was unavailable for comment and Goldstein said neither he nor Brees is empowered to speak for the IRS.
John Gay of the American Hotel and Lodging Association said his group has "gotten the message" and alerted its 13,000 members with properties. The National Restaurant Association has also notified its 244,000 members of the IRS initiative.
"Our greatest concern is making sure that employers have a clear mandate from the various entities of the government," said Brandon Flanagan of the restaurant association. "But until we know what that mandate is, we're stressing to our members that the notification from the Social Security Administration is not grounds for dismissal."
Said Teressa Brown of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce: "This initiative is causing confusion, uncertainty and upheaval in the workforce. We're asking for a meeting with the IRS to find out exactly what the government's intentions are."
Washington-D.C. attorney Laura Reiff said she is representing one New York company which has notified 200 of its workers they have invalid Social Security numbers.
Torres said about 100 companies have contacted the Mexican Consulate in Salt Lake City asking for information on how to legalize workers, which he said "undoubtedly has to do with the notification letters."
In Salt Lake City, Mark Steel Corp. has fired 18 employees, Utah Medical Products has terminated six, and three workers failed to show up for their state government jobs after they were told to work out number discrepancies, according to agency and company representatives.
"We would have been happy to have these people as employees if they had the proper documentation, but we had no choice," said Paul Richards of Utah Medical Products. "It is clear that the government is becoming more aggressive at enforcing immigration laws."
Newspaper Agency Corp., the advertising arm of The Salt Lake Tribune and the Deseret News, received notices of at least 10 invalid worker numbers. The company is investigating the problem.
Hunter Douglas Fabrication Co. has informed from 150 to 200 workers nationwide -- including 50 workers at its plant in Murray -- that they must work out discrepancies with the Social Security Administration within 90 days or face possible termination.
"We're waiting to see exactly where we stand at the end of the 90 days before we take any action," said Chris Outlaw, the firm's vice president and general counsel. "We certainly don't want to lose these employees."
Some employees have left their jobs rather than explain the discrepancies, said Provo attorney Jose Silva, who is representing 15 workers notified by five companies that they could be fired.
"The employers' main concern is that they want to keep these employees," Silva said, "but depending on the workers' legal status, there may be nothing they can do, especially if the Internal Revenue Service or the Immigration and Naturalization Service become involved."
Miguel Monterrubio, spokesman for the Mexican Embassy in Washington, D.C., said Mexican officials have asked consulates across the United States to determine how many expatriates are being affected by the notification letters.
"We are making a diagnosis of the implications of this," he added, "to find possible solutions."
Mexican President Vicente Fox has called the estimated 4 million migrants working in the United States heroes. Money sent home by expatriates is a large source of income for Mexico's economy.
Michael Martinez, an attorney and former chairman of the Utah Advisory Board to the U.S. Civil Rights Commission, said employers risk lawsuits if they are unaware of labor and anti-discrimination laws and they single out employees for questioning. He also said that because Utah allows tax identification numbers for purposes of employment, workers do not have to produce Social Security numbers.
Meantime, the fired Utah welder, who asked not to be named because of fear of deportation, said that without a job he will lose his Salt Lake County home.
Other undocumented Mexican workers have been allowed to return to their former company, he said, but at reduced pay and with no benefits.
"I can't live on that pay," he said. "And if I turn in the company I'll be deported. Besides, the people who work there are my friends."
"Possible deportation?" What's that all about? This criminal and millions of others of his ilk should be in jail at this very moment, and his relatives out of here already. This sort of smarmy 'touchy-feely' press is unbelievable. Round 'em up, move 'em out. It's the law.
Shh. Don't tell the Bush-haters.
for each invalid Social Security number
Fifty dollars! Wow, that is draconian. Employers must be really shaking in their boots over the prospect of a $50 fine. No wonder the crackdown is so "silent."
I couldn't read any further.. "You know, just because I entered illegally and falsified my papers shouldn't mean that I am not welcome.. I mean, after all, this is America! "
Fifty bucks could easily be written off as the cost of doing buisness. Far, far too low.
Well that is just the way the mop flops when you are an obvious illegal immigrant from Mexico. Go back to Mexico where you are a legal citizen and seek your own opportunities. Stop cutting into our legal seniors citizens benefits.
....the IRS will be conducting follow-up investigations of mismatched Social Security numbers....
Finally. Not that this hasn't been suggested on this forum many times. If the IRS gets on their trail they will scatter like quail.
What about the silent raid that's been going on against the taxpayer who has to pay for the illegal's healthcare, schooling for their kids, and the incarceration costs for the thousands of them in jail? Or do these illegal alien apologists even care?
Doesn't matter.. More people paying into SS isn't the answer. It's a ponzi scheme that's doomed to failure at some point.
All that's left to argue is when.
Welder? But I thought illegal scumbag aliens only did those jobs Americans won't do.
I'm sure there are plenty of unemployed welders in SLC who would love to have the job that scumbag illegal held. Both the illegal scumbag alien and the scumbag un-American business owner who hired him should be put against a wall and shot.
Then something would have to be done about all the damn aliens being brought in on H-1B visas to do the same thing...steal our jobs...only with the government's blessing.
Scouts Out! Cavalry Ho!
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