Reps. Dom Costa, Daryl Metcalfe want to keep employers from hiring undocumented immigrants

They’ve introduced a bill that would require all Pa. employers to use E-Verify, a federal program that determines if a person can work legally in the U.S.

Dozens march in Beechview for a Day Without Immigrants

Dozens march in Beechview for a Day Without Immigrants

Jasmine Goldband
Sarah Anne Hughes

Two Western Pa. state representatives from different parties have joined forces to introduce legislation that seeks to prevent employers from hiring undocumented immigrants.

Rep. Dom Costa, a Democrat who represents part of Pittsburgh, and Butler Republican Rep. Daryl Metcalfe plan to introduce a bill that would require all employers in Pennsylvania to use the federal E-Verify Program, which checks information from Form 1-9 like Social Security and passport numbers against federal databases to determine if a person can work legally in the U.S.

The bill would also require the attorney general or a district attorney to investigate if they receive a “complaint that an employer knowingly employs an illegal alien,” according to a co-sponsorship memo. Consequences for employers who violate the act include the “permanent suspension of all state-issued licenses.”

“While immigration reform is primarily a federal issue, Pennsylvania can and should be doing more to ensure that jobs in this Commonwealth are occupied by United States citizens and those who are residing here legally,” Costa and Metcalfe wrote in the memo.

Born out of the 1996 Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act, E-Verify is a online program operated by the Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services with the Social Security Administration. A handful of states including Arizona mandate the use of E-Verify, while Pennsylvania requires public works contractors and subcontractors to use it.

Legislation requiring the use of E-Verify has been introduced at the federal level by Sen. Chuck Grassley and is currently being considered in several other states. Expanding E-Verify use is backed by President Donald Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

The effectiveness of E-Verify in its stated goal is questionable. The Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank, found it “has a startling degree of inaccuracy,” while in Arizona, a study showed E-Verify didn’t lower the unemployment rate among authorized low-skill workers.

The Pa. legislature is considering a number of immigration bills this session, including one that would strip so-called “sanctuary cities” of certain state funding. Costa voted in favor of a similar bill last year and is co-sponsoring legislation recently introduced by Allegheny County Rep. Tony DeLuca that would punish businesses found to employ undocumented persons.

Costa and his immigration record were at the center of a February protest after he was listed as a co-sponsor on a bill that punishes sanctuary campuses. He later said his name was mistakenly added.

Metcalfe has introduced a number bills that target undocumented persons, whom he has called “illegal alien invaders.” In 2011, he also introduced a “birther” bill that would require candidates for office to “submit valid proof of natural born citizenship documentation.”

Neither Costa’s nor Metcalfe’s office provided additional comment.