Pennsylvania bill would check status of construction workers

    Bill would require state contractors to check their workers

    Two bills that would punish construction contractors that hire illegal immigrants are on their way to the Pennsylvania Senate. The House approved the bills on Tuesday. This immigration debate doesn’t always cut easily along partisan lines.

    The bills would require contractors that receive state work or federal stimulus dollars to use a federal database to verify the legal status of their workers.

    Bucks County Democrat John Galloway says he introduced the bills in the House almost four years ago when he learned that people were losing their jobs to lower-paid immigrants.

    “Cutting through the partisanship was one of the biggest stumbling blocks to me getting this done and why it took so long. At some point I was able to convince people that this is not a partisan issue, that its not anti-immigrant. What we’re doing is not targeting illegal immigrants, we’re targeting the contractors that are using and abusing them for profit.”

    Galloway has the support of large unions in the state.

    But opponents include a combination of civil rights organizations, some business lobbies and the more progressive Service Employees International Union. A spokesman for the ACLU says the federal database known as “e-verify” is unreliable.

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