Business

Farmers: McCrory 'misinformed' on immigration bill veto

Posted August 16, 2013

— Area farmers said Friday that Gov. Pat McCrory was wrong to veto legislation that would have eased rules for them and other business owners who hire foreign workers.

Under current law, the immigration status of seasonal workers hired for 90 days or less doesn't have to be checked through the national E-Verify system, but House Bill 786 would have expanded that exemption to anyone hired for up to nine months.

McCrory said Thursday that he vetoed the bill to keep undocumented workers from taking local jobs.

"I want to save North Carolina jobs for citizens of North Carolina," the governor said.

The E-Verify system works well, he said, and the bill opens the door for people in the U.S. illegally to filter into manufacturing jobs in the state.

"This was a bill disguised to help farmers," he said.

"I think he has good intentions. He's just misinformed. I think he just missed this one," said Jeffrey Lee, who grows sweet potatoes, soybeans and tobacco on his Johnston County farm.

Lee hires 48 seasonal workers from Mexico to handle the heavy lifting on his farm, and he said he and other farmers can't find locals to do the work.

"I don't think there's 1 percent of the farms in this state that could operate with local labor. It's just not going to happen," he said.

Migrant worker, farm worker, tobacco farm Farmers say consumers will suffer if they can't hire field workers

Like other labor-reliant farmers, he strongly disagrees with McCrory's claim that the legislation is a job-killer, noting that he has to pay $1,500 per worker to get U.S. Department of Labor clearance for his seasonal staff.

"It would save me the time and the paperwork and the hassle of doing all this ... and the money," he said about the proposed E-Verify exemption that McCrory turned aside.

The veto also could affect non-farmers in North Carolina, Lee said.

"If you do away with that labor and we cannot harvest these crops, then you will not have an abundant cheap supply of food," he said.

Lawmakers will go into special session next month to consider a possible override of McCrory's veto of the immigration bill and a second bill calling for welfare applicants to pass a drug test.

The state Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services "would not be disappointed" by an override on House Bill 786, spokesman Brian Long said.

"In the absence of congressional immigration reform, House Bill 786 is important for ensuring that farmers can continue to hire sufficient numbers of workers," Long said. "Without an adequate labor supply, farmers run the risk of having crops rot in the fields, which has happened in other states, such as Georgia."

14 Comments

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  • Sally1023 Aug 23, 2:51 p.m.

    mccrory..good for big business, bad for farmers. 2014 is just around the corner...if you are upset, vote!

  • north 501 Aug 22, 5:40 p.m.

    While I don't agree with McCroy on some issues, I think he called this one right. As they say "You can put lipstick on a pig, but it's still a pig".

  • saturn5 Aug 21, 4:11 p.m.

    Are these illegal immigrants so essential because they work for less than minimum wage? Is it that no legal workers are willing to do the work for the wage offered? That sounds like we're exploiting a group of people (illegal immigrants) who can't find better job opportunities due to their immigration status and paying an artificially low wage because of it. It doesn't help the immigrant. We need better ways for legal immigrants and citizens to get these jobs. If that drives labor costs up, then food costs will go up, too. You can't use the desire for cheap food to validate perpetuating a slave wage underclass. Fixing this will also go a long way to fixing illegal immigration in general.

  • Atheistinafoxhole Aug 21, 10:40 a.m.

    Finally, the truth is being exposed - it's all about the money. Many don't want to admit it, but it is the businesses in this country that ATTRACT illegal immigrants, because they don't want to pay decent (or even legal) wages. It is the same for illegal drugs. If Americans didn't buy them, they would stop selling them here.

    At the same time, many people want to end illegal immigration, but aren't willing to pay the higher prices that it will create. Can't have it both ways people.

  • geoherb1 Aug 19, 4:28 p.m.

    The legislators could easily change the wording of the bill to exempt just agricultural employers from the requirements of E-Verify. Instead they wrote a bill that does open up any business to hire illegal immigrants and classify them as temporary employees for up to nine months in a calendar year. If you started an employee after April 1, you could work him through September 29 of the following year--nearly 18 months--as a "temporary employee" and not have to verify his work status.

  • IPayYouPay Aug 19, 4:17 p.m.

    Seems like he's misinformed on quite a bit. Wow, were the NC voters snookered. Good job, McCrory, NOT!!!!

  • teddyspaghetti Aug 19, 1:04 p.m.

    Illegals are the new 'slaves'. They are not governed by minimum wage rules nor all the protections granted to citizens....if they speak out against the owners, they get booted out! Sounds like slavery to me!!

    Before illegals, who picked those crops? CITIZENS did, but now those same citizens won't do the work because it is easier to sit home and do nothing....pays better too! Welfare needs some reforming as well as our immigration policy!

  • Frank Downtown Aug 16, 7:50 p.m.

    Looks like a lot of produce will be rotting in the fields next year!

  • SaveEnergyMan Aug 16, 7:36 p.m.

    "I don't think...farms in this state...could operate with local labor."

    Sure, when you pay them minimum wage, locals can get a better job at the Mickey D's or Wallyworld, or live off the public dole. Locals will do the jobs for a wage that is commensurate with how hard the work is. Immigrants - legal and illegal, skew this. Supply and demand works, when you don't micromanage it. Of course, that's what any good politician does today, to buy votes of the "illiterate masses".

  • stymieindurham Aug 16, 7:29 p.m.

    I remember growing up as a young person I would go down east and pull tobacco with my cousins because the eastern belt paid more for primers.
    When the summer was over I'd go back home and back to school. Shouldn't this happen with the "seasonal workers"? ( I think we all know they will never leave and go back home)

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