Federal immigration law is tricky in the U.S. because many states and local governments are taking a more active role in immigration policies. Here is what you need to know about immigration laws and regulations in Pennsylvania.
Law enforcement and immigration
The Secure Communities federal program has law enforcement run arrestee fingerprints through the federal database. The federal database checks their immigration status and criminal record. The Secure Communities federal program has been around since 2008.
All businesses must follow the federal employment eligibility verification rules and the requirements for Form I-9. The Department of Homeland Security is responsible for enforcing employment eligibility verification. Information that people need when looking for work includes name, address, date of birth and Social Security number. There isn’t a rule to use E-Verify to check employee status. The city of Hazelton denies permits to any businesses hiring unauthorized immigrants.
Restrictions on public benefits
The only restriction for getting a state identification card or a driver’s license is a Social Security card. There are a few programs that undocumented immigrants can use, such as 911 or emergency room health care. Most other public benefits that citizens have, however, undocumented immigrants can’t use. There are no education or voting checks. A person voting for the first time needs a valid ID. There are also no housing ordinances for immigration; the Supreme Court stopped an attempt to punish landlords who rent to undocumented immigrants.
The state immigration laws and regulations are the same across the state for the most part. The Pennsylvania Immigration and Citizenship Coalition tracks immigration policy. There are some restrictions on public benefits and working rights for undocumented immigrants, but there are also protections for immigrants under the Philadelphia Executive Order No. 8-09.