Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Immigration Laws in Pennsylvania

One thing always strike me about anti-immigration rhetoric and laws. Laws tend to target the immigrant and not the folks employing illegal immigrants. Case in point, the recent controversial Arizona law which makes it possible for the police to essentially harass anyone who's not lily white. This method of targeting the immigrant ends up dividing families and encourages a police state. Immigrants don't come to America because they like the weather. They come to escape hardship and get jobs. If the jobs don't exist, they won't flood our gates. In Connecticut they have scheduled immigrant pick-up stops where you can get a laborer for the day. They also have plans to build full-fledged shelters at the stops. The residents of Connecticut don't care because they get cheap labor without thinking of the long-term health care, schooling, and judicial costs. This is repeated in Home Depots across the country. If someone gets in trouble, it won't be the day employer, it will be the laborer, who will get kicked out of the country and replaced by yet another cheap immigrant laborer. It's a vicious cycle and ultimately the people who get the most hurt are the immigrants.

However, Pennsylvania's latest laws actually aim to target those employers who get cheap immigrant labor, then undercut responsible employers in state bids.

House Bills 1502 and 1503 require employers to verify the social security numbers of their employees if they are going to bid on state projects. These house bills (which you can read in their entirety and discuss at the new site if you're so inclined) target the employers instead of the employees. Of course, they're still not perfect. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is quick to point out that the methods for determining whether someone has a valid social security number are flawed. However, these house bills also have overwhelming bi-partisan support. I'll be watching these closely as they goes through the State Senate.

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