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August 25, 2011


Philadelphia Bar Association Chancellor Rudolph Garcia has expressed the Association's opposition to a package of immigration bills pending before the House State Government Committee.

The Chancellor detailed the Association's position in written testimony sent to members of the Committee in advance of hearings on the bills scheduled for Aug. 30 and 31.

"According to State Representative Daryl Metcalfe, Pennsylvania has been invaded by millions of illegal aliens who are stealing our jobs and victimizing our citizens. In response, he has proposed a package of more than a dozen bills that would do far more harm than good, by trampling our rights, reducing public safety and impairing our economic recovery," Garcia said.

"The bills would inconvenience and impair the rights of many people who are citizens or lawful residents, based solely on how they look or sound. That is a very inefficient, costly and discriminatory approach," the Chancellor stated in his testimony.

"It would be especially sad to see Pennsylvania impair our individual liberties over this issue. Pennsylvania is the birthplace of our nation. We declared our independence here in 1776, and our Constitution was written here in 1787."

Garcia cited House Bill 738 as an example of the problem. The bill compels law enforcement officers who stop anyone "who is or should reasonably be suspected of being unlawfully present in the United States" to demand production of a government issued identification card.

"Such racial profiling will affect many more citizens than undocumented aliens," Garcia said. "This is not the path we should choose for Pennsylvania."

House Bill 856 is just as troubling, Garcia said, because it would require employers to screen applicants with an inaccurate E-verify system. In a 2007 study conducted by Westat for the Department of Homeland Security, researchers found that E-verify incorrectly cleared illegal workers 54% of the time and erroneously categorized 10% of naturalized citizens as ineligible.

Thus, E-verify would expose employers to costly civil litigation and criminal investigations. To avoid such a fate, some employers will not take a chance on anyone with an accent and others will simply relocate elsewhere, he added.

"At a time when we are trying to recover from the recession, we can ill afford to drive businesses, jobs and talented people away," Garcia said.

House Bills 41 and 738 would also require all adult applicants for federal, state or local public benefits to produce photo identification. "Studies show that poor citizens are far less likely than others to have such identification. When people facing sudden hardship need help the most, these bills would place barriers in their path," the Chancellor said.

"The only reasonable solution is comprehensive immigration reform at the federal level, not this patchwork of intrusive, discriminatory and economically harmful laws," Garcia said.

The complete testimony can be downloaded here.

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