HARRISBURG- With state Representative Daryl Metcalfe’s announcement that he intends to introduce anti-immigrant legislation similar to the law recently enacted in Arizona, the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania called on Metcalfe’s legislative colleagues to reject the effort.
"What happens in Arizona stops in Arizona,"said Andy Hoover, legislative director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania. "The new Arizona law encourages racial profiling and betrays American values. We don’t need that here in Pennsylvania."
Last week the ACLU, the National Immigration Law Center, and the Mexican-American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF) announced their intention to challenge the Arizona law in court.
Hoover noted that state legislation requiring the Pennsylvania State Police to enforce federal immigration law has failed to gain traction at the General Assembly and said that he expects that Metcalfe’s bill will be "dead on arrival."
"The commonwealth’s law enforcement officers have a challenging job in keeping our communities safe,"Hoover said. "Asking them to enforce federal immigration law ties their hands behind their backs and makes their job more difficult.
"If immigrants feel they can’t trust the police, victimization increases and our streets aren’t safe," Hoover added.
Anti-immigrant legislation is currently pending on the state House calendar. House Bills 1502 and 1503 would require state contractors and all construction employers, respectively, to use the federal E-Verify program, an online database program that, in theory, verifies the work-eligibility of employees.
In practice, E-Verify often rejects eligible workers and fails to detect unauthorized workers, according to a recent analysis by Westat, a research company. Legal residents and naturalized citizens are disproportionately impacted by the errors in the E-Verify databases.
Several years ago, Arizona enacted legislation requiring all businesses in the state to use E-Verify, and the business community in Arizona has reported a higher error rate for eligible workers than what the federal government has claimed.
"Clearly, Arizona is the bottom of the barrel when it comes to state law on immigration," Hoover said. “Arizona provides a model for what not to do in Pennsylvania."