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PA NOW Letter of Testimony for Hearing on Immigration Bills August 30 2011

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Letters to Legislators or local elected officials regarding polices or proposed legislation or ordinances affecting women and children in Pennsylvania
    8/22/2011            Susan   Boyle   Republican   House   Committee   Legislative   Staff   41B   East   Wing   Capital   Building   Harrisburg,   PA   17120   ( sboyle@pahousegop.com )   Dear   Ms.   Boyle:   We   are   writing   on    behalf   of   the   approximately   14,000   dues   paying   members   and   contributors   to   the   National   Organization   for   Women   in   Pennsylvania.   Pennsylvania   NOW,   Inc.   is   the   statewide   chapter   that   works   to    bring   about   full   equal   rights   for   all   women.   We   are   writing   you   to   express   our   opposition   to   several   of   the   anti ‐ immigration    bills    before   the   House   of   Representatives   that   will    be   heard   during   this   hearing   on   August   30.   We   understand   that   the   following    bills   are   likely   to    be   covered   during   this   hearing   (listed    by   Name,   Bill   Number,   Prime   Sponsor,   and   the   current   status   of   each    bill)      Identification   of   Lawful   Presence   Bills   o   SB   9   /   Scarnati   /   Passed   Senate   and   Referred   to   Committee   on   State   Government   o   HB   41   /   Marsico   /   Referred   to   Committee   on   State   Government   o   Arizona   Model   Legislation/   HB   738 /   Metcalfe/   Referred   to   Committee   on   State   Government      Penalties   and   Duties   of   Agencies   /   HB   355   /   Readshaw   /   Re ‐ referred   to   State   Government      License   Revocation   /   HB   439   /   Mustio   /   Re ‐ referred   to   Committee   on   State   Government      State   Compact/   HB   474 /   Cox/   Referred   to   Committee   on   State   Government      Criminal   Records   /   HB   798   /   Creighton   /   Referred   to   Committee   on   State   Government      Memorandum   of   Understanding   /   HB   799   /   Creighton/   Referred   to   Committee   on   State   Government      Power   of   Law   Enforcement/   HB   801 /   Creighton/   Referred   to   Committee   on   State   Government      Sanctuary   Bills   o   Sanctuary   Cities   Funding/   HB   810 /   Perry/   Referred   to   Committee   on   State   Government   o   Sanctuary   Cities   Victims   /   HB   865   /   Knowles   /   Re ‐ referred   to   State   Government      Smuggling   of   Human   Beings/   HB   856 /   Kauffman/   Re ‐ referred   to   Committee   on   State   Government      “Commonwealth   Citizenship   Act”   /   HB   857 /   Metcalfe/   Re ‐ referred   to   Committee   on   State   Government      E ‐ verification   /   HB   858    /    Metcalfe   /   Re ‐ referred   to   Committee   on   State   Government   We   oppose   all   of   these    bills   in   general   as   they   are   an   immigration ‐ enforcement   only   form   of   legislation   and   do   not   take   into   account   the   disparate   impact   these   laws   would   have   on   all   residents   –   documented     Pennsylvania NOW, Inc. PO Box 68Bellefonte, PA 16823-0068Email: panow@panow.org  website: http://www.panow.orgPhone: 814-280-8571Fax: 814-355-3057  Pennsylvania   NOW,   Inc.             Joanne   L.   Tosti ‐ Vasey,   Ph.D.      2   and   undocumented.   They   also   impose   new    burdens   on   our   workers,    businesses,   and   the   economy   in   general.   Women   and   children,   in   many   of   these    bills,   would   also    be   even   more   harshly   hit.   The   following   is   a   selective   review   of   a   few   of   these    bills   and   why   we    believe   that   these   particular    bills   would   most   harshly   impact   women   and   children   here   in   Pennsylvania.   Identification Bills There   are   two   types   of    bills   dealing   with   identification   issues.   One   deals   with   employment   and   obtaining   forms   of   identification.   The   other   type   deals   with   access   to   public    benefits.   HB   858   requires   all   Pennsylvania   employers   to   enroll   in   the   federal   E ‐ Verify   program   to   confirm   employee   Social   Security   numbers.   It   also   denies   any   form   of   registration   (including   driver’s   licenses)   to   individuals   who   cannot   prove   that   they   are   legal   residents   of   the   US.   This    bill   could   cause   serious   problems   for   victims   fleeing   domestic   violence   situations   without   any   identification.   Senate   Bill   9   and   House   Bills   41   and   738   require   individuals   to   produce   a   government ‐ issued   form   of   identification   to   prove   their   lawful   presence   in   Pennsylvania   in   order   to   receive   either   public    benefits   or    benefits   from   non ‐ profit   agencies   who   receive   any   funding   from   the   state.   Senate   Bill   9   is   the   furtherest   along   in   the   legislative   process;   it   has   passed   out   of   the   Senate   and   is   currently   in   the   State   House   Government   Committee.   HB   738   is   modeled   on   Arizona’s   Anti ‐ Immigration   law.   All   three   will   tie   up   government   programs,   cost   the   state   millions   of   dollars,   further   hurt   our   fragile   economy,   and   place   the   lives   of   women   and   children   in   danger.   Both   SB   9   and   HB   41   require   identification   for   “lawful   presence”   in   the   United   States   as   a   prerequisite   to   the   receipt   of   public    benefits.   Among   the   restrictions   are   denial   of   any    benefit   that   the   state   or   local   government   provides   including,   in   the   case   of   HB   41,   access   to   any   local   food    banks   &   “services   provided   to   women,   infants,   &   children   through   the   Special   Supplemental   Nutrition   Program   for   Women,   Infants   &   Children”   (WIC).   (Let’s   starve   the   kids!).   Both   also   require   that   the   identification    be   verified   through   the   flawed   federal   Homeland   Security’s   “Systematic   Alien   Verification   of   Entitlement   (SAVE)”   database.   HB   738   is   much    broader   then   either   SB   9   and   HB   41   and   as   previously   stated,   mirrors   much   of   Arizona’s   anti ‐ immigrant   law   SB   1070.   It   has   several   sections.   First,   like   SB   9   and   HB   41,   it   requires   all   agencies   and   municipalities   to   verify   that   applicants   for   public    benefits   are   either   US   citizens   or   lawful   immigrants.   This   applies   to   applicants   for   Federal,   State,   or   local   public    benefits   programs.   All   other   applicants   not   exempt   would   have   to   sign   an   affidavit   swearing   lawful   immigration   status,   subject   to   verification   through   the   flawed   Systematic   Alien   Verification   of   Entitlement   Program.   Second,   it   fines   officials,   agencies,   and   municipalities   for   failure   to   enforce   the   law.   Third,   it   makes   it   a   crime   to    be    Pennsylvania   NOW,   Inc.             Joanne   L.   Tosti ‐ Vasey,   Ph.D.      3   undocumented.   Forth,   it   penalizes   employers   who   hire   undocumented   workers.   And   fifth,   it   allows   police   to   seize   any   vehicle   they   suspect   might    be   used   for   transporting   undocumented   workers.   T  HESE BILLS ALL RELY ON THE USE OF THE FLAWED FEDERAL E-  VERIFY SYSTEM    According   to   the   National   Immigration   Law   Center,   there   is   an   error   rate   of    between   0.08   and   2.3   percent   in   verification   of   employment   eligibility   for   documenting   immigrants’   legal   status   in   the   US.   Nationally,   that   means   that   with   an   estimated   60,000,000   new   hires   each   year,   somewhere    between   480,000   and   1,300,000   legal   immigrants   and   US   citizens   will    be   flagged   as   undocumented 1 .   According   to   the   2010   Census,   4.2   percent   of   the   total   adult   US   population   reside   in   Pennsylvania. 2   Assume   for   a   moment   that   4.2   percent   or   2,425,000   of   these   new   hires   occur   in   Pennsylvania   each   year.   That   means   for   employment   searches   alone,   an   estimated   total   of    between   1,940   and   55,775   legal   residents   will   likely    be   flagged   as   undocumented.   This   number   will    be   even   higher   if   the   E ‐ verify   system   is   used   not   only   for   employment    but   for   access   to   public    benefits.   And   this   number   will    be   higher   once   the   state   attempts   to   verify   children   as   well   as   adults.   T  HE LACK OF IDS WILL TIE UP PROGRAMS  .   Requiring   an   individual   to   either   produce   a   government   id   and/or   to    be   verified   through   the   flawed   E ‐ verify   system   will   tie   up   programs   at   great   expense   to   the   state   and   to   individuals   who   need   access   to   services.   On   March   1,   2011,   the   Women’s   Law   Project   and   Community   Legal   Services   along   with   24   other   organizations   submitted   testimony   to   the   Pennsylvania   Senate   regarding   the   government   identification   requirements   found   in   SB   9.   Their   concerns,   in   our   opinion,   also   apply   to   these   other    bills   as   well.   In   that   letter,   they   point   out   that   a   government   issued   photo   id   may    be   hard   to   obtain.   That   could    be   due   to   the   need   for   having   other   forms   of   government   id,   such   as   a    birth   certificate.   For   example,   a    birth   certificate   to   prove    birth   in   the   United   States   can   take   time   to   obtain   so   that   you   can   then   obtain   a   picture   1   Moran,   Tyler   (June   11,   2011).   Statement   of   Tyler   Moran,   Policy   Director,   National   Immigration   Law   Center   to   the   US   House   Committee   on   the    Judiciary,   Subcommittee   on   Immigration   Policy   and   Enforcement:   Hearing   on   the   Legal   Workforce   Act.   Retrieved   August   21,   2011   from   http://nilc.org/immsemplymnt/ircaempverif/Legal ‐ Workforce ‐ Act ‐ imm ‐ subcomm ‐ testimony ‐ 2011 ‐ 06 ‐ 15.pdf.   2   2010   Census.   Retrieved   August   21,   2011   from   http://factfinder2.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?pid=DEC_10_SF1_QTP1&prodType=table   and   http://factfinder2.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?pid=DEC_10_NSRD_QTPL&prodType=table.    Pennsylvania   NOW,   Inc.             Joanne   L.   Tosti ‐ Vasey,   Ph.D.      4   id,   such   as   a   driver’s   license   or   a   passport.   People   who   have   lost   their   srcinal    birth   certificate   or   who   have   no   access   to   their   documentation—such   as   domestic   violence   victims   who   have   fled   their   violent   homes   without   any   identification   or   for   people   who   have   lost   all   of   their    belongings   in   a   disaster ‐‐ could   result   in   delays   that   they   cannot   wait   for.   In   addition,   people   without   personal   transport   could    be   further   delayed    by   not    being   able   to   travel   to   a   photo   id   center   to   obtain   a   photo   id.   Beside   the   complications   in   obtaining   government   issued   photo   ids   proving   a   legal    basis   for    being   in   the   United   States,   there   is   the   additional   cost   for   setting   up   and   maintaining   these   identification   programs.   This   can   cause   financial   problems   to   the   state   in   addition   to   delaying   the   distribution   of   needed    benefits   to   documented   individuals.   For   example,   Colorado   reported   that   the   state   incurred   over   $2,000,000   in   additional   costs   in   the   first   year   of   full   implementation   of   their   photo ‐ id   law   and   Governor   Rendell’s   administration   estimated   that   implementing   the   photo   id   requirements   for   the   Unemployment   Compensation   program   alone   that   is   required    by   SB   9   would   cost   an   additional   $20,000,000.   3   T  HESE BILLS WILL ENDANGER LIVES  . According   to   the   New   York   University’s   Law   School’s   Brennen   Center   for    Justice 4  ,   about   11   percent   of   all   US   Citizens   do   not   have   a   government ‐ issued   id.   That   number   rises   to   15   percent   for   low ‐ income   families   who   would   most   likely   need   the   public    benefits   covered   under   these    bills.   Women   are   more   likely   than   men   to   have   problems   providing   proof   of   citizenship.   According   to   this   same   study,   one ‐ third   of   women   18   and   older,   one ‐ quarter   of   African ‐ Americans,   and   16   percent   of   Latinas   and   Latinos   do   not   have   ready   access   to   citizenship   papers   –   passports,   naturalization   papers,   and/or    birth   certificates.   And   for   those   with   some   form   of   citizenship   papers   in   their   possession,   10   percent   do   not   have   the   paperwork   to   show    both   their   current   name   and   current   address.   This   number   rises   to   18   percent   for   adults   ages   18 ‐ 24;   this   younger   cohort   include   lower ‐ income   individuals   who   are   more   likely   to    be   parents   with   young   children   that   need   time ‐ critical   public    benefits.   In   Pennsylvania   in   2007,   nearly   1.4   million   Pennsylvanians,   or   almost   12   percent,   were   living    below   poverty.   It   is   estimated   that   over   806,000   (approximately   58   percent)   of   these   individuals   were   female 5 .   Given   that   females   are   more   likely   than   males   to   live    below   the   poverty   line   and   are   thus   more   likely   to   need   access   to   public   services,   this   requirement   for   identification   could   endanger   their   and   their   families’   lives.   3   Women’s   Law   Project   (March   1,   2011).   Advocates   letter   to   PA   Senate   Opposing   SB9.   Retrieved   August   21,   2011   from   http://www.womenslawproject.org/legislative/SB9_opposition.pdf.   4   Brennen   Center   for    Justice   (November   2006).   Citizens   Without   Proof.   Retrieved   August   22,   2011   from   http://www.brennancenter.org/page/ ‐ /d/download_file_39242.pdf.   5   Pennsylvania   Commission   for   Women   (2009).   The   status   of   Pennsylvania   women   report   2009.   Harrisburg,   PA:   Pennsylvania   Commission   for   Women.  
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