By Amaris Elliott-Engel
Of the Legal Staff
The Philadelphia Bar Association has submitted testimony opposing 14 immigration bills pending in Pennsylvania's House of Representatives' State Government Committee.
Among other proposals, the bills proposed a requirement that law enforcement officers who stop anyone "who is or should reasonably be suspected of being unlawfully present in the United States" must produce a government-issued identification card; a requirement that employers must screen applicants in a database; and a requirement that all adult applicants for public benefits must produce photo identification.
The written testimony by Philadelphia Bar Association Chancellor Rudolph Garcia argues that the bills would impair the rights of people who are citizens or lawful residents of the United States, not just illegal immigrants. The solution is to pressure the federal government to act to secure the country's borders, not to enact "a patchwork of inconsistent state laws," Garcia wrote.
"We believe the best approach to a sensible immigration policy is comprehensive regulation and enforcement at the federal level," Garcia wrote. "It is far easier to control immigration at our borders than to sift through our entire population to determine which of us are rightfully here. The latter approach is like adding salt to your food, then trying to remove it again one grain at a time. Yet that is the method proposed by the current package of legislation."
Garcia also wrote that the Philadelphia Bar Association does not condone unlawful immigration.
State Rep. Daryl D. Metcalfe, R-Butler, is the primary sponsor of the bills. Metcalfe says on his website that the legislation is modeled after Arizona legislation and would "provide our law enforcement with full authority to apprehend illegal aliens for deportation; to punish employers who knowingly hire illegal aliens; and to eliminate public benefits, welfare, education, and all other economic attractions for illegal aliens."
The full testimony is available here.