Pennsylvania State Immigration Laws
Welcome to FindLaw's coverage of existing Pennsylvania legislation and rules related to individuals' immigration status. Below you will find information on what, if any, rules Pennsylvania has regarding immigration checks by law enforcement, educational institutions, and employers, as well as the existence of E-Verify requirements, restrictions on public benefits based on an individual's immigration status, and more.
While immigration is a controversial subject in this country, a keen divide exists between who has immigration enforcement power and what role local law enforcement should play, if any. State and local law enforcement has more recently been faced with the question of whether or not they should assume a greater role in enforcing federal immigration laws.
Law Enforcement and Immigration in Pennsylvania
Under a controversial federal program called "Secure Communities," all arrestees were fingerprinted and run through a federal database which checks their criminal record and immigration status. Implementation of Secure Communities began in 2008 under President George W. Bush.
The program briefly ended in 2015 when Obama replaced it with a similar enforcement program, only to be resurrected by President Trump in 2017 under an executive order.
Many cities across the country have declared they will not comply with the Secure Communities enforcement program. Be sure to check with your city's local government to learn more.
Refer to federal employment eligibility verification rules and the requirements for Form I-9.
The city of Hazelton denies permits to businesses that knowingly hire undocumented immigrants.
Pennsylvania E-Verify Requirements
No requirement to use E-Verify for checking employees' status.
Driver's License/ID Requirements
In order to get a driver's license or state identification card, you'll need a Social Security card.
Public Benefits Restrictions
Under federal law, illegal immigrants are prohibited from receiving most public benefits. However, they are allowed to receive emergency services, health care and other programs that have been deemed "necessary to protect life and safety."
Voting ID Rules
Throughout the country, voting rights is a major topic. There is not a state-mandated voter identification requirement, however if you are voting for the first time in your election district, you will required to show ID.
Housing Ordinances and Immigration
The city of Hazelton attempted to levy fines against landlords who knowingly rent housing to illegal aliens. In 2014, a federal court struck down the ordinance and the Supreme Court refused to hear the case.
Pennsylvania State Immigration Laws: Related Resources
If you have additional questions after reading this article, or simply want to do your own research to become a more informed citizen, click on one of the links below to get started. Remember, if you or someone you know is facing an immigration-related matter, always consider speaking with an immigration attorney in your area.
- Pennsylvania Immigration and Citizenship Coalition - Advocacy group for immigrants, migrant workers and refugees.
- Philadelphia Executive Order No. 8-09 - City order affording protections for immigrants (PDF).
- Know Your Rights - Guide to protecting yourself and your family during immigration raids (PDF, CASA of Maryland and other organizations).
Protect Your Rights as an Immigrant in Pennsylvania: Meet with an Attorney
Immigration question in Scranton? Wanting a green card in Philadelphia? You'll have to follow federal immigration laws first and foremost, but state laws may impact your situation. No matter where your immigration question arises in Pennsylvania, FindLaw can help you locate a skilled immigration lawyer who will be able to explain the laws and how they might apply to your situation.
Contact a qualified immigration attorney to help you get the best results possible.