A STATE BILL requiring construction employers on public-works projects to verify the Social Security numbers of their workers unanimously passed a House committee Wednesday, on a day when immigrant-rights activists rallied in Harrisburg to protest the passage of any anti-illegal-immigrant bills.

House Bill 380, sponsored by Rep. John Galloway, D-Bucks, is among various immigration bills being considered this week.

"For me, this issue has always been about jobs," Galloway said of the vote by the House Labor and Industry Committee. "There [are] estimated to be 35,000 illegal workers in the construction industry alone" in the state. Under the bill, workers' employment eligibility would be checked by the federal E-Verify program.

"What we found in 17 other states," where this type of bill has passed, he said, is "if you take away the reason [illegal immigrants are] here, they will leave."

The bill still needs to be voted on by the full House and Senate.

Jen Rock, co-director of the New Sanctuary Movement of Philadelphia, one of 70 immigrant-rights activists who rallied in the Capitol Rotunda, said of the passage of HB380:

"A lot of the economic growth in the country is coming from immigrants right now, documented and undocumented. We need to find a way to pull them into the system rather than exclude them from the system." n

— Julie Shaw