House State Government Committee Majority Chair Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R-Butler), Rep. Martina White (R-Philadelphia), Rep. Doyle Heffley (R-Carbon), and Rep. Jerry Knowles (R-Schuylkill) joined together to officially introduce three pieces of bipartisan legislation to curb illegal immigration throughout the Commonwealth.
Modeled after the Legal Arizona Workers Act that was recently upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court, Metcalfe’s legislation would require all Commonwealth employers and government entities to enroll in the federal government’s free E-Verify program to confirm the validity of Social Security numbers for prospective employees.
Under House Bill 1894, failure to comply would result in the immediate suspension of all state licenses, permits, registrations or certificates held by any private business caught employing illegal aliens.
“All the fences and border agents in the world will remain ineffective as long as illegal aliens know that once they have infiltrated our nation’s borders, there are unscrupulous employers waiting to hire them and sustain their unlawful presence,” said Rep. Metcalfe. “Fast, free, safe, secure and simple to use, E-Verify provides participating employers with one of the most proven means available for accurately determining employment eligibility. There is no excuse for failing to comply and there needs to be tough penalties for anyone who refuses to do so or for any business who operates with a ‘wink and a nod’ test to knowingly put illegal aliens on their payroll.”
Working with Rep. Dom Costa (D-Allegheny), who is the first co-sponsor of House Bill 1894, passage of this legislation would further enhance a 2012 state law that requires all state contractors and subcontractors to confirm the working status of their employees through E-Verify.
Mayor Jim Kenney recently declared Philadelphia a “sanctuary city” – meaning that the city will not turn over illegal aliens to federal officials. In response, Rep. White has introduced House Bill 1885 (not yet online) to establish criminal and economic sanctions against any illegal alien sanctuary city within the Commonwealth.
“We cannot have rogue elected officials and municipal employees refusing to enforce any laws they disagree with,” said Rep. White. “So-called ‘sanctuary cities’ place themselves above the law and allow illegal immigrants who could have a criminal background to remain safe from detainment and federal deportation. This is a very real threat to public safety and sets a dangerous precedent that we must not tolerate.”
In addition to holding any “sanctuary city” responsible for the damages to persons or property as a result of criminal activity by unauthorized aliens, House Bill 1885 would require city and municipal law enforcement officers that have reasonable cause to believe that someone being arrested is in the United States illegally to immediately report the individual to the appropriate United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement Office within the Department of Homeland Security.
“I applaud Rep. White for introducing this important legislation,” said Knowles. “This legislation is about public safety, and it’s long overdue. Even if this bill saves one life, isn’t it worth it?”
Federal law already grants individual states the authority to require an applicant for state and local public benefits to provide valid proof of identity and/or eligibility, and in recent years, several states have enacted such laws.
Under House Bill 237, sponsored by Rep. Heffley, any Commonwealth agency that administers public benefits must verify that those benefits are being paid to only those who are eligible through the Systematic Alien Verification of Entitlement (SAVE) program operated by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
“House Bill 237 would ensure that Pennsylvania is compliant with federal law when it comes to public benefits,” said Rep. Heffley. “By making sure that state and local benefits are only paid to those who are legal residents of Pennsylvania, we are assuring that those Pennsylvanians most in need of public assistance are able to receive it.”“Protecting the economic and national security interests of law-abiding American citizens and legal immigrants must always come first,” said Rep. Metcalfe. “That starts by securing our borders, cracking down on unlawful sanctuary cities and fully implementing the E-Verify and SAVE programs to shut off the economic faucets of jobs and public welfare benefits that are attracting these illegal alien invaders to Pennsylvania in the first place.”