Friends of Refugees

A U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program Watchdog Group

State i.d. cards & unristricted Social Security cards sufficient for employment authorization

Posted by Christopher Coen on August 15, 2012

There seems to be confusion among some employers regarding the necessity to see refugees’ Form I-9 documentation as proof of work authorization in the US. State identification cards and unrestricted Social Security cards are sufficient. A press release from the US Department of Justice gives the details:

The Justice Department announced today that it reached a settlement agreement with Best Packing Services Employment Agency Inc., which is based in Philadelphia, resolving allegations that the company discriminated under the anti-discrimination provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), when it impermissibly delayed the start date of two refugees after requiring them to provide specific Form I-9 documentation.

In two charges filed with the department, the refugees alleged that they were not allowed to begin employment until they produced unexpired, Department of Homeland Security-issued employment authorization documents, despite the fact that they initially presented sufficient documentation for employment eligibility verification purposes. The charging parties had presented unexpired state identification cards and unrestricted Social Security cards at the time of hire. Both were permanently work-authorized but lost several weeks’ worth of wages as a result of Best Packing’s practices. The department’s investigation revealed that Best Packing did not demand specific Form I-9 documentation from U.S. citizens, but allowed them to provide state identification cards and unrestricted Social Security cards. The anti-discrimination provision prohibits treating employees differently in the employment eligibility verification and reverification processes based on citizenship status or national origin…

For more information about protections against employment discrimination under the immigration laws, call the OSC’s worker hotline at 1-800-255-7688 (1-800-237-2525, TDD for hearing impaired), call the OSC’s employer hotline at 1-800-255-8155 (1-800-362-2735, TDD for hearing impaired)… Read more here

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2 Responses to “State i.d. cards & unristricted Social Security cards sufficient for employment authorization”

  1. I’m kind of ambivalent on this one. The DOJ (and INS) seem to want it both ways — scare the heck out of businesses about hiring undocumented immigrants, and then hit them again when they overreact and demand extra (and apparently unnecessary) documentation.

    There’s not enough detail in the short piece (and there never is…the only people who know what actually transpired are the workers and the HR person demanding the extra documents) to make a judgement about what motivations were at work here.

    Was the hiring person ignorant and frightened, or deliberately creating an impossible obstacle? We’ll never know — we’ll just have to take it on faith that the punishment fits the crime. If they were just scared (justifiable in the face of raids, crackdowns, and a slew of state laws across the country targeting undocumented workers) then the $4,739 in back pay is unfair and expensive for a small business. Perhaps window dressing by DOJ to show how sympathetic they are to “legal” immigrants.

    If it was a deliberate effort to keep immigrants from working, then a small bit of justice was served. Triple damages would have been better! I hope the immigrants lawyers worked pro-bono.

  2. cory82 said

    I think its just incompetence rather than an intention to not hire refugees. If you know nothing about documents needed to work then you might just read the social security card that refugees get which says “Valid for work only with DHS authorization”. Even then though, I believe the Form I-9 documentation is verifiable through electronic verification, so there would be no need to demand physical Form I-9 documentation.

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