The Department of Homeland Security is taking its proposed "no match" rule back to the drawing board. Under the August 2007 measure, employers who received a letter from the government informing them that an employee's Social Security number (as reported on W2 forms) did not match the Social Security Administration's records would have had 90 days to either correct the discrepancy or fire the worker. Failure to respond to the notice — known as a no-match letter — could be interpreted by the department as "constructive knowledge" that the worker in question was illegal, leaving the employer open to prosecution for violating immigration law.

From the beginning, the rule generated strong opposition; critics pointed out that the Social Security Administration's records are riddled with misspellings, typographical errors, and unreported name changes, all of which could lead to an innocent discrepancy. According to a December 2006 report by the Social Security Administration's inspector...

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