Perhaps someone in the Bush administration had a moment of lucidity and realized that something like this would create a labor crisis.
Justice Seeks Delay in Court Challenge to Immigration Plan
Bush Administration Says It Will Modify Crackdown on Employers Who Hire Illegal Workers
By Spencer S. Hsu
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, November 25, 2007; A11
The Bush administration said Friday that it will modify its planned crackdown on U.S. companies that employ illegal immigrants, asking a federal judge to delay hearing a lawsuit brought by major American labor, business and farm organizations until the new strategy is completed.
In papers filed in San Francisco late Friday afternoon, Acting Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey S. Bucholtz told U.S. District Judge Charles R. Breyer that the Homeland Security Department is making unspecified changes to its plan to pressure employers to fire as many as 8.7 million workers with suspect Social Security numbers.
The Justice Department in court papers asked the judge to delay the case until March 24, or until a new program is ready.
On Oct. 10, Breyer barred the government from mailing Social Security "no-match" letters to 140,000 U.S. employers, citing serious legal questions about requiring companies to resolve questions about their employees' identities, fire them within 90 days, or else face potential fines and criminal prosecution.
President Bush made the initiative a priority in August after the Senate killed his proposed overhaul of immigration laws. In issuing a preliminary injunction, however, the judge cited plaintiffs' arguments that the Social Security Administration database includes so many errors that using it to enforce immigration laws would cause "staggering" disruptions at workplaces and discriminate against tens of thousands of legal workers.
The judge also said that the government failed to weigh the cost of the new regulation on small businesses as required.
"Certainly DHS believes that the court got it wrong," department spokeswoman Laura Keehner said. However, in modifying the program, "DHS is planning to provide an answer to the small number of minor issues that the judge raised in his opinion," she said.
Randel K. Johnson, a vice president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which joined the suit brought by the AFL-CIO and the American Civil Liberties Union, along with agriculture, restaurant and construction industry associations, said businesses are bracing for the new effort. "I hope they give the employer community adequate time to comment and do not just jam it through during the holidays, particularly given that this regulation covers all industries, across all sectors of the economy."