Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Judge blocks controversial illegal worker plan.
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - A U.S. federal court judge on Wednesday granted a preliminary injunction barring the Bush administration from going ahead with a controversial program to remove illegal immigrants from the U.S. work force.
Judge Charles Breyer of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California said in his ruling "the balance of hardships tips sharply in plaintiffs' favor and plaintiffs have raised serious questions."
The federal program developed by the Department of Homeland Security is at the heart of a new crackdown on the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants in the country and those who employ them.
It was challenged in a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union, the AFL-CIO and other labor groups claiming the program was unlawful.
Earlier this month, Breyer extended a temporary restraining order against the program and blocked the Social Security Administration from sending out 140,000 letters to employers with 8 million employees whose names did not match their Social Security numbers.
Under the proposed program, employers notified of a "no-match" would have 90 days to confirm that an employee was in the country legally or fire him if not.
Employers also could face fines as well as criminal charges if they did not comply with the program.
Breyer said in his decision Wednesday that the no-match letters will result in the firing of lawfully employed workers because letters based on Social Security Administration records include numerous errors.