It appears as if Pennsylvania is the next state to enter into the fray of reforming their state’s immigration laws. Last week, the State Government Committee approved the Professional Licensees Illegal Employment Act. If the bill becomes law, it would penalize anyone that hires undocumented workers by revoking their professional licenses from the Bureau of Occupational and Professional Affairs. This Bureau controls the professional licensing of over 30 licensing boards for various occupations including doctors, nurses, and funeral directors.
The Pennsylvania bill has wide support from Pennsylvania Republicans who believe that employers who hire illegal immigrants are not penalized at all. They believe that illegal immigrants are taking vital jobs in a time where the country is facing increasingly high unemployment rates. Opposition to the bill is widespread, with critics citing the bill’s continued failure to set out a clear policy of how it is going to be enforced.
This isn’t the only immigration bill in Pennsylvania. State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe is leading an effort of immigration overhaul in Pennsylvania through a series of bills known as “National Security Begins at Home.” Another aspect of Metcalfe’s legislation that is awaiting review is a controversial proposal to allow illegal immigrants in Pennsylvania to either leave or face arrest. Metcalfe believes that this piece of legislation is necessary to protect Pennsylvania from the “impact of the illegal alien invasion.” Although Metcalfe is critical of what Arizona did to combat illegal immigration, he must realize that his fears of the “illegal alien invasion” are misplaced and his legislation could potentially wreak havoc on Pennsylvania’s economy. Nowhere is the short term economic impact of immigration legislation greater seen than in Alabama.
Although Alabama has yet to fully enforce its draconian immigration laws, Alabama is already beginning to suffer because of its new legislation. After Judge Sharon Blackburn upheld HB 56, nearly 25% of the state’s construction workers have failed to show up to work. In a time where Alabama is supposed to be focusing on rebuilding infrastructure following the Tuscaloosa tornadoes of last year, the lack of construction workers in Alabama is troublesome. The Perryman Group stated that Alabama could lose an estimated 18,000 jobs and $2.6 billion in revenue because of the state’s immigration measures. Estimates from the American Immigration Council could also cost the states another $130 million in lost tax revenues.
Rather than looking at the lessons from one another, states continue to institute failed immigration laws. States should learn from the mistakes of one another and realize that immigration remains a federal issue. Immigration reform comes from Washington, not Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
Danielle Beach-Oswald is the current President and Managing Partner of Beach-Oswald Immigration Law Associates in Washington, DC. Ms. Beach utilizes her 19 years of experience in immigration law to help individuals immigrate to the United States for humanitarian reasons. Born in Brussels, Belgium, Ms. Beach has lived in England, Belgium, Italy and Ivory Coast and has traveled extensively to many countries. Ms. Beach advocates for clients from around the world who seek freedom from torture in their country, or who are victims of domestic violence and trafficking. She has also represented her clients at U.S. Consulates in Romania, China, Canada, Mexico, and several African countries. With her extensive experience in family-based and employment-based immigration law Ms. Beach not only assists her clients in obtaining a better standard of living in the United States, she also helps employers obtain professional visas, and petitions for family members. She also handles many complex naturalization issues. Ms. Beach has unique expertise representing clients in immigration matters pending before the Federal District Courts, Circuit Courts, Board of Immigration Appeals and Immigration Courts. She has won over 400 humanitarian cases in the United States. Her firm's website is www.boilapc.com.