“No match” firings at California farm

On June 9, Sun Valley Floral Farms in northern California’s Humboldt County fired 283 employees after a letter from ICE informed the company that the workers are not eligible to work in the US because their Social Security numbers do not match government records. More than half of the company’s workforce was laid off, according to Sun Valley Group CEO Lane DeVries. “It’s like a neutron bomb hitting our company,” DeVries said. “Some of these people worked with us for 17 years. Some were team leaders for 10 or 12 years. This is very devastating to the people involved.”

The latest ICE action against the company likely stems from investigations and raids that took place in the area nearly a year ago. DeVries said Sun Valley’s employment records were searched at that time, and approximately seven months ago, the company was asked to submit I-9 tax forms. (Times Standard, Eureka, CA, June 10)

On June 16, a week after the firings at Sun Valley Floral, the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled that 33 custodians who were fired from their jobs at the Staples Center in Los Angeles in 2003 for having mismatched Social Security numbers were wrongfully terminated. The court ruled that discrepancies found in “no-match” letters the Social Security Administration sent to their employer, Aramark, did “not automatically mean that an employee is undocumented or lacks proper work authorization.” The ruling requires the Los Angeles janitors to be rehired with back pay. It was the first federal appeals court in the nation to rule on no-match letters. (Arizona Republic, June 19; San Francisco Chronicle, June 17)

From Immigration News Briefs, June 22

See our last post on the politics of immigration.