The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will propose a new regulation to rescind the Social Security Administration’s no-match rule.

The current rule is designed to address an employer's obligations in response to the receipt of a social security number mismatch notice from the Social Security Administration (SSA).

The rule stated that the receipt of a SSA no-match letter could be used as evidence that the employer has constructive knowledge that an employee lacks work authorization.

The no-match rule also made clear that an employer who did not follow the guidelines would be susceptible to an I-9 violation and possible fines in the event of a workplace audit or raid.

The regulation was issued by the Bush administration in 2007.

“This rule would have been devastating to the California and Arizona fresh fruit, vegetable, and tree-nut industries and would have caused massive layoffs of employment-authorized workers and U.S. citizens, while dragging the economy deeper into recession,” said Tom Nassif, Western Growers’ president and chief executive officer.

“I want to thank (DHS) Secretary (Janet) Napolitano for showing great leadership and quickly rescinding such a bad policy.”

The no-match rule wrongly presumed that if a worker is named in a ‘no-match’ letter that the worker is ineligible to work in the U.S., Western Growers says.

“The reality is that the SSA database is not, and was never intended to be, an immigration database and does not contain real-time data on individuals’ immigration status or work authorization,” Nassif said.

Western Growers is an agricultural trade association whose almost 3,000 members grow, pack, and ship 90 percent of the fresh vegetables and nearly 70 percent of the fresh fruit and tree nuts grown in Arizona and California, about one-half of the national’s fresh produce.