- Pennsylvania Among 'Terrible 10' Most Regressive Tax States
- February 4 Non-Partisan Training: HOW TO RUN FOR ELECTION BOARD IN 2013: HOW TO RUN FOR COMMITTEEPERSON IN 2014
- Republican Governors Opt-In to Medicaid Expansion
- The Reports of Unions' Death Are Greatly Exaggerated
- Ask Allyson Schwartz to run for Governor
- Mind the gap: Opting Out of Medicaid Expansion Leaves Low-income Families Behind
- Jan. 14 Workshop:HOW TO RUN FOR ELECTION BOARD IN 2013; HOW TO RUN FOR COMMITTEEPERSON IN 2014
- Seth Williams on Guns, Jasmine Rivera on School Closures @PFC Meetup Wednesday
- PA Revenue Strong Midway Through Year; Tax Cut Could Have Big Impact
- What to Make of the Fiscal Cliff Deal?
Stop the Hate: Arizona Style Anti-Immigrant Measures in Pennsylvania Must Be Killed
Rep. Daryl Metcalf held hearings over the past two days on what he styled as the "National Security Begins at Home" package of legislation. The hearings included the following bills:
HB 41, HB 355, HB 439, HB 474, HB 738, HB 798, HB 799, HB 801, HB 809, HB 810, HB 856, HB 857, HB 858, HB 865, SB 9
Without getting into each and every one of these bills, let me highlight some things these bills would do:
- Require the flawed e-verify system to be used by all employers in the state
- Penalize municipalities that are considered "sanctuary cities" (Reading and Philadelphia both fall into this definition). Penalties could include taking away public benefits from all residents in these cities.
- Make it a crime to knowingly transport an undocumented immigrant. This would include a church driving an individual to services or a child driving her undocumented mother to the hospital
- Require identification to be used to access any and all public benefits, despite the fact that an estimated 500,000 citizens in Pennsylvania lack ID (you guessed it: this group includes a disproportionate number of poor, black, and elderly)
- Allow competitor companies and disgruntled employees to bring lawsuits! against a business for allegedly hiring undocumented immigrants. Seemingly no proof is necessary and one can win triple! damages (triple what, I'm not sure, but it sounds big!)
- Allow police officers to request immigration paperwork of any immigrant and would create a criminal offense for note carrying those papers. How this law will be enforced without racial profiling, I don't know.
- Deputize local police as ICE agents, able to carry out immigration functions.
- Deny citizenship to children born in Pennsylvania to undocumented immigrants.
- and many more fun provisions....
Despite the fact that the hearings were on 15 bills and were spread over two days, Metcalf limited speakers against the bills to 4 (we had about 20 people submit requests to testify against the bills), while inviting 9 of his own people to speak for the bills.
To get the pro-immigrant voices out there, a press conference was held just before the hearings started and drew about 100 people, including press from many major state outlets.
Rather than ramble, I'm going to highlight a short bit of testimony from an economist for the Cato Institute, who spoke against the bills. Below, you can find links to all of the testimony given or submitted in written form.
The state of Pennsylvania faces many challenges, but the inflow of too many hardworking immigrants is not among them. Pennsylvania currently ranks 30th among states in the share of your population that is foreign born. In 2009, only 5.5 percent of Pennsylvania residents were immigrants, compared to 12.5 percent nationwide. Illegal immigrants are an even smaller share, 1.3 percent of your state's population compared to 4 percent nationwide, according to the Pew Hispanic Center. That ranks Pennsylvania 40th among the states...
Our enforcement-only approach has failed because it ignores the underlying economic and demographic realities of our dynamic American economy. Low-skilled immigration to the United States, both legal and illegal, is driven by basic forces of demand and supply...
By facilitating the growth of such sectors as retail, agriculture, landscaping, restaurants, and hotels, low-skilled immigrants have enabled those sectors to expand, attract investment, and create middle-class jobs in management, design and engineering, bookkeeping, marketing and other areas that employ middle class, native-born Americans...
The answer to illegal immigration is not to criminalize honest work but to change our immigration system to meet the labor needs of today and tomorrow. We need to expand channels for legal immigration through a robust temporary worker program. Such a program would allow low-skilled workers from Latin American and elsewhere to enter the United States legally, for a certain limited period, to work in Pennsylvania and other states in occupations where there are simply not enough American workers available and willing to fill the jobs being created....
It is wrong and unfair to blame low-skilled, undocumented immigrants for unleashing a crime wave in America. There is no evidence that illegal immigrants have committed a disproportionate share of crimes. In fact, the evidence is just the opposite....
[According to a study by the Texas Comptroller, if all undocumented immigrants were to leave Texas] the state's economy would shrink by 2.1 percent, or $17.7 billion. The study concluded that, "relative to the rest of the world the cost of production in Texas is higher [without the illegal immigrants], making our goods less competitive in the international marketplace and decreasing the size of the Texas economy."
These bills must be stopped. Please call your local PA legislators and tell them you oppose all of the measures in the "National Security Begins at Home Package."
Testifying against the bills:
The Catholic Conference, the Lutherans, the Jewish Coalition, the PA Council of Churches, 2 family farmers, 2 DREAM Activists, the City of Philadelphia, PA Bar Association, Philly Bar Association, Community Legal Services, Anti-Defamation League, PA NOW, the Pittsburgh Interfaith Impact Network, PA Immigration & Citizenship Coalition, the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, HIAS PA, ACLU, Associated Builders & Contractors, the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau, SEIU, & a CATO Institute economist
Testifying for the bills:
2 individuals from FAIR, CIS, Judicial Watch, 2 law enforcement professionals, an ex-INS agent, and a Tea Party county chair.
I recommend reading the testimony for the bills to see how thin the arguments are. With few exceptions, they are based on stereotypes and generalizations that have been pulled out for generations against minorities of different colors. You could easily substitute "Blacks" for "Illegal Immigrants" and the testimony could have been presented 60 years ago.