The Social Security Administration recently sent more than 500,000 “no-match” letters to employers across the country, notifying them that at least one of their employees is using a Social Security number that doesn’t match their name.
The government suspended use of these no-match letters back in 2012 so it was a surprise to businesses like the Pismo Oceano Vegetable Exchange that recently received one.
“It’s almost as if I got the letter personally and it says your Social Security isn’t matching. The first thing that would come into my head is, what’s this?” said Dan Sutton, Pismo Oceano Vegetable Exchange General Manager.
The Social Security Administration says these letters can be a result of anything from falsification of numbers and immigration status to clerical errors.
Employers aren’t prosecuted for the “no-match” but do need to take steps to rectify it.
“That includes making sure we didn’t have clerical errors in documenting their numbers for the first time, seeing if there are any name changes, if there are any hyphens, did we put a middle name where it’s part of a last name? So we’re doing our due diligence,” Sutton explained.
The letters aren’t unique to the agriculture industry, and organizations like C.A.U.S.E. worry about the ripple effect this may have on immigrant workers in all types of industries.
“Fear of retaliation, fear their employer might have a knee jerk response and fire people who may or may not have a Social Security number,” said Lucas Zucker, C.A.U.S.E. Policy Director.
Sutton says he’d just like to see his employees get the benefits they’re earning.
“If they’re paying into something like Social Security, it’s important for me as an employer to make sure they’re eligible for the benefits they’re paying into, so I don’t think it’s going to turn people away but I think we’re in the steps now of really investigating and really looking at what possible reason it could be for receiving that letter,” Sutton said.
According to a 2018 Pew Research Center report, the number of undocumented workers in the workforce hit its lowest point in a decade in 2016.
There were 10.7 million unauthorized immigrants in the U.S. in 2016, down from 12.2 million in 2007. The total is the lowest since 2004 and is tied to a decline in the number of unauthorized immigrants from Mexico.
Last week, President Donald Trump announced his new plan for immigration reform that includes building a border wall in targeted locations and changing the asylum system.