New rules to be made public soon may require employers to fire illegal immigrants or face fines of $250 to $10,000 per illegal worker. The rule, expected from the Department of Homeland Security, states that an employer must fire any individual who can’t be verified as a legal worker by name and social security number.

Craig Regelbrugge, co-chairman of the Agriculture Coalition for Immigration Reform says, “there’s a lot of fear and anxiety about what this rule is going to mean, particularly in the agriculture sector”. Regelbrugge also is spokesman for the American Nursery and Landscape Association.

Typically, the Social Security Administration sends “no match” letters informing workers and employers of discrepancies found in records. However, employers receiving such letters have generally left it up to the employee to resolve the question. Those employers who don’t comply with the new rule and can’t verify whether their workers are legal may find themselves accused of knowingly employing an illegal worker.

The rule will provide instruction for employers to terminate workers who receive “no-match” letters and can't resolve the issue within 60 days. Homeland Security spokesman Russ Knocke predicts that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement “is going to be tough and aggressive in the enforcement of the law”. “You are going to see more work site cases. And no more excuses.” he adds.
 
The estimated 11 million to 12 million illegal immigrants in the country had a chance for legal temporary worker status provided by the immigration reform bill recently debated by the U.S. Senate. After the bill collapsed in Congress, employers began worrying about tougher immigration rules that DHS had tried to enact earlier.

Ray Atkinson, a spokesman for Pilgrim’s Pride Corp., confirmed the company recently fired employees at two Texas plants related to concerns over their immigration status. The company’s policy “for some time now” has been to terminate employees who can’t clear up discrepancies, he said.

Source: Associated Press