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Pennsylvania Bill Sparks Call for Congress to Act on Immigration

Hispanic lawmakers pointed to a tough immigration proposal unveiled Tuesday in Pennsylvania as evidence of the type of widespread copycat bills they claim are likely to pop up across the country in the coming weeks and months if Congress fails to pass comprehensive immigration reform.

“It’s a sign of what’s going to begin to happen more and more unless we approve immigration reform at a national level,” said Rep. José Serrano (D-N.Y.), who has asked Major League Baseball to move the 2011 All-Star Game from Phoenix to protest the new Arizona law that the Pennsylvania bill seeks to emulate. “You’re going to see more of that. … You’re going to get people, who obviously don’t realize what’s happening to Arizona with all the boycotting. … In the absence of immigration reform, you’re going to see states acting on their own.”

Pennsylvania state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe’s (R) proposal, modeled after Arizona’s law, would empower state and local law enforcement to check the identification of suspected illegal residents in certain circumstances and would make it a crime to be in the country illegally.

“The more states consider parroting the Arizona Republicans on immigration, the more pressure there is on the White House and Congress to act on immigration at a level that will actually solve problems and give us greater control over who is here and who is coming, promote legal immigration and eliminate illegal immigration,” said Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.), chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus’ immigration task force. “There will be a lot of political posturing, but in the end, it is the feds that have to act and act quickly.”

Since Gov. Jan Brewer (R) signed the Arizona bill into law late last month, advocates of comprehensive immigration reform have seized on it to fuel their calls for Congress to pass a comprehensive immigration bill this year.

A rival bill introduced Thursday in Pennsylvania aims to remove state and local law enforcement power to enforce immigration law.

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