The title of this piece may seem contradictory. Seldom do Pennsylvanians equate common sense with state government but, now and again, the planets align and what results is a real world approach to an overwhelming problem.

When a problem reaches the point where it appears no solution is possible you need to step back and approach the problem in attainable increments. For example, Pennsylvania’s budget is like a tornado cycling out of control. Governor Wolf’s proposal to raise taxes so the state can spend more is simply silly. Hopefully the Legislature, which is the hands of fiscal conservatives, will find a more attainable solution.

A part of the budget problem is how we treat illegal aliens. Please note I did not say “illegal immigrants” because that is a contradiction in terms. A person cannot be an illegal immigrant. To immigrate means you have done so lawfully and not by some clever lawyer’s trick.

That is why when I received a press release from Senator Joe Scarnati (R-Brockway) titled “Scarnati Supports Senate Passage of Illegal Alien Bill” it gained my attention.

According to the press release, the state Senate approved legislation that would “deny public benefits, such as Medicaid, welfare, and unemployment compensation, to illegal immigrants living in Pennsylvania.”

Senate Bill 9 would establish tighter scrutiny and criminal penalties on the Commonwealth’s almost 200,000 estimated illegal immigrants when they apply for services funded by taxpayer dollars.

Senate Bill 9 would “require anyone receiving public benefits in Pennsylvania to provide identification proving they are legal residents.  In addition, individuals would be required to sign an affidavit stating they are a United States citizen, or an immigrant lawfully residing in this country.  Any illegal immigrant who falsely claims they are residing in the country legally, in order to obtain public benefits, will have committed a second degree misdemeanor and be subject to arrest.”

This means Pennsylvania would not award these illegal aliens with a driver’s license, tax refunds, free medical assistance or subsidies to attend college has been done in other states. The legislation is not without a compassionate clause however.

The legislation would “provide compassionate exceptions to its tough restrictions.  The measures would only apply to residents age 18 and older and would exempt seniors who are Medicare eligible as well as disabled Pennsylvanians who are receiving SSI or SSDI.  The bill would also allow every person in Pennsylvania access to emergency medical care, necessary immunizations and disaster relief.”

“America is a country with people of many diverse backgrounds,” Scarnati said.  “But in recent years, our state and country have been confronted with illegal immigration which is draining public funds, straining existing services, and creating unfair competition for jobs with American workers.

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“Addressing the issue of illegal immigration is one that I have been pushing very strongly for a number of years, but with these tough economic times, it is now even more crucial that we stop providing benefits to individuals who are living outside the law,” Scarnati said.  “Pennsylvania citizens, who are struggling to make ends meet, should not have their hard-earned dollars going toward benefits for illegal immigrants.”

Senate Bill 9 will now be sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.

I have no doubt the bill, if passed by the House, will be challenged in court. If the case is heard by a liberal federal judge, I have no doubt it will be overturned. If that should happen, Pennsylvania will join the growing list of states who have tried to fill the void created by the federal governments dereliction of its duty to enforce current immigration laws.

Kudos to the folks in Harrisburg for at least making the attempt.

Bart

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