Burns: E-verify expansion huge win for Pennsylvania workers

New law stops contractors from hiring undocumented workers

HARRISBURG, Oct. 7 – A bill sponsored by state Rep. Frank Burns became law despite Gov. Tom Wolf’s refusal to sign it. The new law expands the mandatory use of the E-verify program to employers in the construction industry.

Burns, D-Cambria, said the bill became law on Sunday after Gov. Wolf chose not to sign or veto it. In Pennsylvania, a bill that has been passed in the state House and Senate automatically becomes law if the governor neither vetoes nor signs it within 10 days of its passage.

Burns said he believes this new law will level the playing field for contractors who do the right thing and hire documented workers.

“This is about saving Pennsylvania jobs by penalizing unscrupulous contractors who hire illegal workers,” said Burns. “It’s about time we hold corporate American accountable for profiting from illegal immigration.”

According to a 2018 article in The New York Times, undocumented immigrant workers account for 15% of those employed in construction – or about 1.35 million workers nationally.

“For years, I have demanded we crack down on companies that knowingly hire illegal immigrants who are willing to work for less,” said Burns, D-Cambria. “The passage of this law shows Pennsylvania is serious about stopping illegal immigration by preventing companies from hiring and exploiting illegal workers for profit.”

Burns added that the state already requires E-verify to be used on publicly funded construction projects that exceed $25,000. Under the new law, which will take effect in a year, construction industry employers will be required to check an employee’s records in E-verify to make sure they are legally permitted to work in the United States.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security oversees E-verify, which is an internet-based system to determine worker eligibility. More than 17,000 employers in Pennsylvania have verified more than 630,000 newly hired workers this year.