House State Government Committee Chairman Daryl Metcalfe (R-Butler), along with Representatives Doyle Heffley (R-Carbon), Rob Kauffman (R-Franklin), Jerry Knowles (R-Schuylkill) and Ryan Warner (R-Fayette) Monday announced the introduction of six pieces of bipartisan legislation to curb illegal immigration throughout the Commonwealth.
“Article 4, Section 4 of the U.S. Constitution clearly states that our government ‘shall guarantee to every state in this Union a Republican form of government and shall protect each of them against INVASION,’” said Rep. Metcalfe. “With several signed executive orders that will enhance border security, properly resource enforcement efforts and compel illegal alien sanctuary cities to comply with the law, clearly there is a new sheriff in the Oval Office who is serious about exercising his rightful authority to keep our nation safe from the illegal alien invasion. Now with the executive branch of the federal government no longer AWOL, it has never been more urgent for state lawmakers to actively do their part by advancing legislation to ensure that the economic and national security interests of law-abiding citizens and legal immigrants always come first.”
Modeled after the Legal Arizona Workers Act that has been upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court, Rep. 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 856, failure to comply would result in the suspension of all state licenses, permits, registrations or certificates held by any private business caught employing illegal aliens.
“As long as illegal aliens know that that there are unscrupulous employers waiting to hire them and sustain their unlawful presence they will continue to infiltrate our borders in order to steal American jobs,” 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 unpatriotic business that 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 856, 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.
If enacted, Rep. Kauffman’s Professional Licensees Illegal Employment Act would revoke the license of any licensed professional, such as a nursing home administrator or a landscape architect, who knowingly employed or permitted the employment of an unauthorized alien.
“The business community needs to be doing their part and making sure those they hire are United States citizens or have a permit to work here,” said Rep. Kauffman. “Employers who circumnavigate the law and knowingly employ illegal immigrants would be penalized under my bill.”
On January 25, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney publicly stated that he has no intention of complying with President Donald Trump’s executive order which would strip away federal funding from more than 300 known sanctuary jurisdictions across the nation, including Philadelphia, that refuse to turn over illegal aliens to federal officials.
If enacted, House Bill 28 (not online yet) would establish criminal and economic sanctions against any illegal alien sanctuary city within the Commonwealth.
With major institutions of higher learning across the nation also announcing the adoption of campus-wide sanctuary policies for illegal aliens, including Swarthmore College and the University of Pennsylvania, both located in southeastern Pennsylvania, Knowles has introduced new legislation that would prohibit any sanctuary campuses from receiving state funding-- House Bill 14.
“The issue of illegal immigration is very controversial in our country right now, but this bill is very simple,” Rep. Knowles said. “It would prohibit any sanctuary university from receiving state dollars until such time as those policies are rescinded. We cannot choose which laws we’ll obey and which laws we’ll ignore. It’s just plain wrong to turn a blind eye to the issue of illegal immigration for the sake of making a political statement, which I feel is the motive behind these campuses declaring themselves sanctuary campuses.”
From the perspective of apprehending and detaining illegal aliens, Rep. Warner’s legislation would require state and local law enforcement agencies to fully comply with federal law and cooperate with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in the capture and detainment of illegal aliens.
“Detainers are issued when the federal government has decided that illegal aliens should not be returned to the community,” Rep. Warner said. “State and local law enforcement should not have the power to overrule the federal government, which has many more resources to draw upon to make these informed decisions.”
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 826, 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.
“Our public resources are not limitless, and my legislation would ensure that our hard-earned tax dollars are spent helping our legal residents. We are morally obligated to provide assistance to those who are legally residing in Pennsylvania, not illegal immigrants,” said Rep. Heffley.
The other bill numbers were not announced.Each of these bills either has been or is expected to be referred to Metcalfe’s House State Government Committee for consideration.