A S THE U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments Wednesday on Arizona's controversial immigration law, local advocates are organizing a bus trip to Harrisburg to protest the package of bills championed by state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, an ardent foe of illegal immigration.
"It's very important for folks in Harrisburg to see the faces of the people these laws would affect - not just immigrants, but poor and working-class communities across the state," said Erika Almiron, executive director of Juntos, the South Philly Latino-advocacy group that is spearheading the May 7 trip.
The Pennsylvania bills - about 15 in all - are referred to as the "National Security Begins at Home" legislative package.
Kim Hileman, who works for state Rep. Babette Josephs of Philadelphia, the ranking Democrat on the House State Government Committee and an opponent of the bills, said Monday that "the momentum this bill package had in the beginning of the year seems to have stalled."
Metcalfe, R-Butler, chairman of the committee, did not return a call Monday from the Daily News.
On May 7, Juntos will lead a rally in the Capitol Rotunda to protest the bills. The group already has signed up eight busloads of people, including advocates from Philly, Upper Darby, Norristown, Allentown and Kennett Square. The Archdiocese of Philadelphia is sponsoring one of the buses.
Of the bills, these have gained the most momentum:
* Senate Bill 9: Would require a person to show proof that he/she is legally in the country before receiving public benefits. It has passed the Senate and the House State Government Committee, but has not been voted on by the full House.
* House Bill 439: Prohibits individuals and businesses required to obtain a Department of State license from knowingly hiring illegal immigrants. If an employer does so, its license would be revoked. Opponents of the bill fear that it could shut down an entire business, like a hospital.
The bill has passed the House, and is now in the Senate State Government Committee, where it has not received any action.
* Senate Bill 637: Not originally part of the "National Security" package, this bill is now considered the E-Verify bill that has progressed the furthest. It would require an employer to prove that it participates in the federal E-Verify program, which checks the employment eligibility of employees, before being awarded a public-works contract.
The Senate and the House State Government Committee have passed the bill. It has not yet been voted on in the full House.