Pa. House OKs cracks down on illegal workers

HARRISBURG — The state House today overwhelmingly approved two bills aimed at cracking down on construction companies that employ undocumented immigrants who have entered the country illegally.

House Bill 1502, which bars companies that hire illegal aliens from entering into state construction contracts, was passed 188 to 6. A companion bill, House Bill 1503, which could cost a company its state license and bar it from entering into construction contracts with other private firms, was passed 188 to 7.

Rep. John Galloway, D-Bucks, said some contractors, apparently in an effort to lower costs, are hiring illegal immigrants for construction jobs and paying them less than legal wages and not providing health benefits. The illegal aliens also aren’t paying state and federal taxes, he said. This situation is hurting unemployed Pennsylvanians who are seeking work, he said.

Some business groups, including chambers of commerce, oppose the bills, which may cause them to face a difficult time in the Republican-controlled Senate. Under the measures, which Mr. Galloway said 14 other states have already enacted, companies would have to use a system called E-Verify, which includes millions of Social Security numbers in a federal, online database, to ensure that each of its workers has a legal Social Security number or the proper papers showing he or she has entered the U.S. legally.

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