CHICAGO — A group of unions, workers’ groups and Latino politicians say "no-match" letters sent by the Social Security Administration are actually a scare tactic targeting immigrants and employers.
Around two months ago, Dalia Martinez says her food processing company received a no-match letter asking about errors with employee Social Security information. Martinez says the company panicked and warned workers that they had 60 days to resolve issues.
"I was very worried," Martinez said through a translator.
Martinez then sought out Arise Chicago, a worker center, for advice on next steps to take. They said Martinez and her co-workers should tell the company they did not need to follow up with SSA, and everything was fine. The company backed down and dropped the 60-day warning.
Groups like Arise say the letters are actually a scare tactic being employed by the Trump administration, and should not be a source of panic for immigrants or employers.
"We all have rights as workers and we have a voice. Let’s use it," Martinez said.
After a 12-year hiatus, the Trump administration reinstated the practice of sending no-match letters alerting employers to irregularities with employees’ Social Security numbers.
Chicago area unions, workers’ groups and politicians say the letters are being used to intimidate immigrant workers.
"This is not an accident. This is premediated plan to dislocate workers," Mujica said
Cook County Commissioner Alma Anaya called it a scare tactic.
"We know that they are coming constantly for communities of color, and specifically for immigrant communities," Anaya said. "The federal administration wants to make sure that -whether it’s through the census citizenship question or whether it’s through the no match letters – that they’re out there intimidating communities."
Local officials say they’ve heard stories of immigrants losing their jobs.
"We want to alert business owners once again: do not fire workers because you’ve received this no match letter," said Rev. C. J. Hawing, Arise Chicago
"In the Chicago area we have been contacted by hundreds of workers," Mujica said. "That’s why we developed a tool kit to send them letters in response to the employer, individual letters, collective letters, reinstatement letters, and what not but basically clarifying that SAA no match letters are just educational materials."
The Social Security Administration sent out an initial wave of these letters, and are expected to send 300,000 more this fall.