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Pennsylvania House approves two bills targeting illegal workers

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June 9, 2010

HARRISBURG, Pennsylvania: In an attempt to crack down on illegal workers in the construction industry, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives passed two bills on June 8 which force contractors to verify the immigration status of their employees. House Bill 1502 would require all state contractors to use the federal government's E-Verify database, while HB 1503 would require all construction employers to do the same. The E-Verify program allows an employer to check a worker's personal information against Social Security Administration and Department of Homeland Security databases.[1]

The author of the bills, Rep. John Galloway, said that there are some 18,000 - 35,000 illegal immigrants working construction jobs in Pennsylvania. He stated, "These bills target contractors who cheat -- who use and abuse a cheap, illegal work force for profit. These bills stand up for decent, hardworking Pennsylvanians who play by the rules and are begging for our help."[2] The Pennsylvania ACLU argues that the bills are certainly an invasion of privacy, and possibly unconstitutional. Legislative director of the ACLU Andy Hoover stated in a press release, “Laws with E-Verify provisions in Hazleton and in Oklahoma have been struck down by the courts. The courts have ruled that immigration regulation is the responsibility of the federal government, not the states and cities.”

The bills overwhelmingly passed the House 188-6 and now go to the Senate.

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