Proclaiming “there is a new sheriff in the Oval Office who is serious about exercising his rightful authority to keep our nation safe from the illegal alien invasion,” state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe announced on March 13 the “National Security Begins at Home” legislative package.
It is designed to cut off the flow of illegal immigration into Pennsylvania, to clamp down on so-called sanctuary cities and campuses, and to ensure that only those legally entitled to receive state and federal benefits are being paid through state accounts.
Metcalfe and his Republican colleagues pointed to a Pew Research Center study that showed Pennsylvania was home to about 180,000 illegal immigrants in 2014, an increase of 50,000 from 2009.
The Pew study also showed that Pennsylvania was one of only six states that saw an increase in the population of illegal immigrants from 2009-2014.
The Federation for American Immigration Reform has estimated that Pennsylvania taxpayers have paid nearly $1.4 billion because of illegal immigration.
That included $575.85 million for education, $332.11 million for social assistance, $74.28 million for court-related expenses, and $395.63 million for other expenses.
When the FAIR study was published in 2010, those costs were the 15th-highest among the 50 states.
“We need to ensure that we’re shutting off the faucets that attract illegals to Pennsylvania,” Metcalfe said.
Metcalfe has sponsored House Bill 856. It is modeled after the Legal Arizona Workers Act. It would require all Pennsylvania employers and government entities to enroll in the federal government’s E-Verify program to make sure employees are not using fake Social Security numbers.
“As long as illegal aliens know that that there are unscrupulous employers waiting to hire them and sustain their unlawful presence, they will continue to infiltrate our borders in order to steal American jobs,” said Metcalfe. “There is no excuse for failing to comply, and there needs to be tough penalties for anyone who refuses to do so or for any unpatriotic business that operates with a ‘wink and a nod’ test to knowingly put illegal aliens on their payroll.”
Another member of this GOP anti-alien invasion coalition, Rep. Jerry Knowles, has done just what PJM reported he would do in January. Knowles has introduced HB 14. The legislation is intended to prohibit any college or university “sanctuary campuses” from receiving state funding.
“We cannot choose which laws we’ll obey and which laws we’ll ignore,” Knowles said at the March 13 press conference. “It’s just plain wrong to turn a blind eye to the issue of illegal immigration for the sake of making a political statement, which I feel is the motive behind these campuses declaring themselves sanctuary campuses.”
Rep. Ryan Warner (R) has introduced HB 28 as part of this package. It would require state and local law enforcement agencies to fully comply with ICE and other federal agencies going after illegal immigrants. In other words, no sanctuary cities.
“Detainers are issued when the federal government has decided that illegal aliens should not be returned to the community,” Warner said. “State and local law enforcement should not have the power to overrule the federal government, which has many more resources to draw upon to make these informed decisions.”
Under House Bill 826, introduced by GOP Rep. Doyle Heffley, any Pennsylvania agency that pays out public benefits to immigrants would have to make sure the recipients are qualified through SAVE, the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlement Program.
Pennsylvania agreed to a $48.8 million settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice in 2015 to settle a case involving public assistance benefits that were illegally paid out to undocumented immigrants.
“Our public resources are not limitless, and my legislation would ensure that our hard-earned tax dollars are spent helping our legal residents. We are morally obligated to provide assistance to those who are legally residing in Pennsylvania, not illegal immigrants,” said Heffley.
While Metcalfe and four fellow GOP lawmakers announced their agenda, more than a dozen people stood in silent protest against the idea that Pennsylvania was being invaded by aliens.
The Capitol Newswire reported the protesters waved signs that read “alien invasion = paranoia,” “No Ban. No Wall. No Raids,” and “No human is an alien.”
Elizabeth Alex, regional director of CASA, an immigrants-rights group, said the Republicans’ proposals were a “strong message of hate.”
“The real goal is actually not to fix any problems,” Alex said. “The real goal is to shut the door and say that people of color and immigrants are not welcome in our state and that’s really a sad day for Pennsylvania.”
One of the protesters, Mary Barnes, said it was “incredibly offensive” to hear the Republican lawmakers repeat the phrase “alien invasion over and over again.”
“We’re talking about human beings,” Barnes said. “And then (the lawmakers) tack on the word ‘invasion’ so that they become even more alien-like, like Martians.”