Bills Would Tighten Pennsylvania's Immigration Enforcement

Article excerpt

HARRISBURG -- It's illegal and immoral to take resources from state taxpayers and give them to people without proper documentation, a national Tea Party leader says.

H. John Stahl, a former Pennsylvania legislator from Berks County and founding member of the Tea Party Immigration Coalition, is pushing for legislation in Pennsylvania and other states to ensure that illegal aliens don't get taxpayer-paid benefits such as welfare, take jobs from Pennsylvanians or have an opportunity to commit crimes.

"There is nothing in the U.S. Constitution that lends itself to the taxpayers being taxed for the benefit of illegal aliens," Stahl told the House State Government Committee last week.

A package of bills pending before the committee would require proof of citizenship to obtain public benefits; penalize employers who hire illegal aliens; require employers to use the federal E- Verify systems, in which applicants are checked against 455 million records; and let state and local police enforce immigration laws.

The "misguided proposals" would "harm and even criminalize" immigrants and communities, said Pamela Linares, of Community Insight, once an immigrant and now a legal resident.

"Instead of targeting immigrants, Pennsylvania's Legislature should work toward finding solutions to our broken federal immigration system," Linares testified.

Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-Cranberry, the committee chairman, said members will meet after the House returns to session the last week of this month and debate which bills they want to make a priority or amend.

During the first half of 2011, 1,592 bills dealing with immigration were introduced in the 50 states -- up 16 percent over the first half of 2010, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures in Denver. As of June 30, more than 150 bills had passed in 40 states. Eighteen states now have the E-Verify system for employers that Pennsylvania is considering.

"Pennsylvanians don't want to spend $1.4 billion a year on people who shouldn't be in the state in the first place," Metcalfe said.

Metcalfe based his figure on information provided to the committee by the Federation for American Immigration Reform. …