The Dept. of Homeland Security has taken another step toward reviving a planned regulation aimed at cracking down on companies that hire illegal immigrants. DHS on Oct. 23 issued a supplemental final rule that sets forth what companies must do when they receive a Social Security Administration notice that the name and Social Security number on a worker's W-2 form don't match the agency's records.

The department had issued a "no match" regulation in August 2007, but critics, including the AFL-CIO and American Civil Liberties Union, filed suit and a federal district court temporarily blocked DHS from carrying out the rule.

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  • DHS now has made some changes, adding economic analysis, hoping that the revisions will satisfy the court. Secretary Michael Chertoff says that now that the new version has been issued, DHS will ask the court to lift the injunction and let the regulation take effect. Chertoff says, "The additional information in this supplemental rule addresses the specific items raised by the court, and we expect to be able to quickly implement it."

    Chertoff says that in some cases, there are "innocent explanations for no-match letters," such as when someone gets married and doesn't change their last name on the W-2. He adds, "If there is not an innocent explanation and it is in fact the case that someone is using phony documents, and someone is not authorized to work, then you have to make sure you bring your employment situation into compliance with the law."

    But Chartoff also predicts that groups that challenged the initial DHS no-match rule will object to the revised version.

    Among other things, critics have charged that the database the federal government uses to match Social Security information has flaws. AFL-CIO President John Sweeney said, "Rather than punishing and causing discrimination against workers who will be the innocent victims of a fatally deficient database, the administration should abandon this rule unless it can guarantee that no American workers will lose their jobs."

    To read the text of the DHS supplemental regulation, see