Top Demo­crat warns Cin­tas against fir­ing il­le­gal im­mi­grants

The Washington Times Weekly - - National - By Jerry Seper

A Mis­sis­sippi Demo­crat in line to be­come chair­man of the House Home­land Se­cu­rity Com­mit­tee has warned the na­tion’s largest uni­form sup­plier it faces crim­i­nal charges if it fol­lows a White House pro­posal to recheck work­ers with mis­matched So­cial Se­cu­rity num­bers and fire those who can­not re­solve the dis­crep­ancy in 60 days.

Rep. Ben­nie Thompson said in a let­ter to Cin­tas Corp. it could be charged with “il­le­gal ac­tiv­i­ties in vi­o­la­tionof­s­tate­andfed­er­allaw”ifany of its 32,000 em­ploy­ees are ter­mi­nated be­cause they gave in­cor­rect So­cialSe­cu­ri­tynum­ber­sto­be­hired.

“I am deeply trou­bled by Cin­tas’ re­cent pol­icy change re­gard­ing the So­cial Se­cu­rity Ad­min­is­tra­tion’s ‘no match’ let­ters,” Mr. Thompson said in the Nov. 2 let­ter. “It is my un­der­stand­ing that hun­dreds of Cin­tas’ im­mi­grant work­ers have re­ceived th­ese let­ters. I am ex­tremely con­cerned about any po­ten­tially dis­crim­i­na­tory ac­tions tar­get­ing this com­mu­nity.”

In June, Pres­i­dent Bush pro­posed new guide­lines con­cern­ing “no-match” let­ters from the So­cial Se­cu­rity Ad­min­is­tra­tion, say­ing he wanted to make it eas­ier for em­ploy­ers to ver­ify work­ers’ el­i­gi­bil­ity and con­tinue to hold them ac­count­able for those they hire.

TheDepart­mentofHome­landSe­cu­rity fol­lowed up on that an­nounce­ment on Nov. 27, for­mally re­leas­ing new reg­u­la­tions to help busi­nesses com­ply with hir­ing re­quire­ments in­tended to re­duce the hir­ing of il­le­gal aliens—in­clud­ingset­ting­guide­lines for busi­nesses when han­dling “no­match” let­ters from the So­cial Se­cu­rity Ad­min­is­tra­tion.

The­p­ro­pose­dreg­u­la­tionis­sub­ject to a 60-day pub­lic com­ment pe­riod.

“Most busi­nesses want to do the right thing when it comes to em­ploy­ing le­gal work­ers,” said Home­land Se­cu­rity Sec­re­tary Michael Chertoff. “Th­ese new reg­u­la­tions will give U.S. busi­nesses the nec­es­sary tools to in­crease the like­li­hood that they are em­ploy­ing work­ers con­sis­tent with our laws.

“They also help us to iden­tify and pros­e­cute em­ploy­ers who are bla­tantly abus­ing our im­mi­gra­tion sys­tem.”

But Mr. Thompson called the “no-match” let­ters a threat to work­ers who fail to rever­ify their in­for­ma­tion and called Cin­tas’ ac­tions a “rash en­act­ment of a pro­posed DHS reg­u­la­tion.” He said that by im­ple­ment­ing “this in­com­plete reg­u­la­tion,” Cin­tas could be in vi­o­la­tion of fed­eral im­mi­gra­tion law.

Th­e­seven-term­con­gress­man­also said be­fore the pro­posal be­comes law, it must go through a rule-mak­ing process, “which could rad­i­cally change the reg­u­la­tion or kill it all to­gether.”

Cin­tas has is­sued let­ters to 400 em­ploy­eesin­fives­tat­estellingthem they­will­bein­def­i­nitely­sus­pendedif they can­not re­solve their mis­matched So­cial Se­cu­rity num­ber within 60 days.

“Cin­tas, like all em­ploy­ers, has a le­gal obli­ga­tion to en­sure all em­ploy­ees are legally au­tho­rized to work in theU.S.,”the­firm­said­i­nas­tate­ment. “Cin­tas has not ter­mi­nated any em­ploy­ees due to the So­cial Se­cu­rity mis­match­esand­plansto­con­tin­ueits pol­icy of plac­ing th­ese em­ploy­ees on in­def­i­nite leave un­til they pro­duce the re­quired doc­u­men­ta­tion.”

In his let­ter, Mr. Thompson said his “ap­pre­hen­sion” over the pro­posed pol­icy was echoed by the Equal Em­ploy­ment Op­por­tu­nity Com­mis­sion, which said the pro­pos­al­coul­dresultin“cir­cum­stances in which em­ploy­ers have in­cen­tives to take ac­tions that vi­o­late [. . . ] nondis­crim­i­na­tory pro­vi­sions.”

As Home­land Se­cu­rity Com­mit­tee chair­man, he would set the panel’sagenda.Ear­lier­inNovem­ber, he also said Democrats planned to “re­visit” leg­is­la­tion man­dat­ing 698 miles of fenc­ing on the U.S.-Mex­ico border and might seek to scrap the plan.

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