The U.S. Dept. of Justice Dec. 4 filed an appeal to a federal district court's injunction against the Dept. of Homeland Security's "no-match rule," firing the latest salvo in a battle between the government and business and labor groups.

The no-match rule would require employers to terminate employees who receive "no-match" letters from the Social Security Administration if they cannot resolve the discrepancy between the employee's name and his or her social security number within 90 days. Employers that do not comply could face criminal prosecution.

Both business and labor groups have criticized the proposal, which had been set to go into effect in September, claiming that it could result in the termination of thousands of lawful employees. This August, the AFL-CIO, the American Civil Liberties Union and other labor groups filed a lawsuit challenging the rule. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce joined in the lawsuit in September. A judge from the court issued an injunction against the rule in October.

DHS said that it would revise its proposal to address some of the judge's concerns, and on Nov. 23 asked the court to put the lawsuit on hold until after the agency could do so. DHS said it would issue a revised proposal by March 2008.

DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff says that by pursuing both the appeal and the revisions simultaneously, the agency "can get a resolution as quickly as possible so we can move the no-match rule forward and provide honest employers with the guidance they need."

Chertoff adds that DHS is not abandoning the rule. "I believe that the no-match rule is a major step forward in preventing employment of illegal migrants," he says. "Those that ignore no-match letters place themselves at obvious risk and invite suspicion that they are knowingly employing workers who are here illegally."