@NCCapitol

@NCCapitol

House bill tightens checks on immigrant workers

Posted April 15, 2015

— Thousands of North Carolina businesses would have to start using a federal system to check their employees' immigration status under a bill that cleared the House Commerce Committee on Wednesday.

House Bill 318, dubbed the Protect North Carolina Workers Act, would lower the threshold for using the E-Verify system from 25 employees to five. Sponsor Rep. George Cleveland, R-Onslow, said that would add about 110,500 employers statewide to the immigration-check system.

"We've allowed a huge illegal population in the state. We've taken away employment from our citizens. We've lowered the wage base because of the illegals working," Cleveland said. "Illegal aliens cost the state of North Carolina some $1.7 billion net, after all consideration of what they produce in taxes and whatnot toward government support.

"It's time to start reversing that trend," he concluded.

The bill covers independent contractors hired by cities and counties, but it exempts farm workers and domestic help, which raised questions among some committee members.

"If, in fact, the bill sponsors are so vehemently opposed to taking American jobs, I do find it a tad disingenuous that we are excluding the agricultural businesses," said Rep. Brian Brown, R-Pitt.

Cleveland and co-sponsor Rep. Chris Millis, R-Pender, noted that the General Assembly passed an E-Verify law two years ago that addressed agricultural workers, allowing farmers to hire seasonal workers for up to nine months, instead of the 90-day limit in effect at that time, before the workers would have to undergo an immigration check.

Gov. Pat McCrory vetoed that bill, saying it would make it easier for businesses in many industries to circumvent federal immigration law, but lawmakers overrode the veto.

Cleveland said agriculture amounts to no more than a quarter of the undocumented workers in North Carolina, so the current bill focuses on the bulk of the problem in other industries.

"There have been so many misconceptions about the E-Verify system since its inception because folks don't want to play with it," he said. "Folks would rather hire an illegal and go on and do whatever they want to do. ... The misconceptions and the fraud out there is, I don't really want to say appalling, but it is."

Millis said the language exempting domestic workers mimics that in federal statutes, which he said likely resulted from a court ruling.

Consular cards not valid IDs

House Bill 318 also would eliminate the use of cards issued by foreign consulates as valid forms of identification to establish state residency or obtain insurance or public assistance.

Cleveland said the state started allowing consular cards as IDs about 20 years ago to help immigrants set up bank accounts and function in society, but the consulates never verified the identities of people who were issued cards.

"They were issuing them willy-nilly. There were people who were arrested that had six, seven, eight consular cards with different names on them – different identities – but the same picture," he said.

The bill still must pass the House Judiciary IV Committee before heading to the floor.

8 Comments

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  • George Herbert Apr 15, 2015
    user avatar

    The current law has way too many loopholes. The change to 9 months in a calendar year is laughable. An employer could hire someone this month and consider him a temporary worker until the end of August 2016.

  • Susan West Apr 15, 2015
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    A little insight - Oftentimes Americans don't want to do the work that an immigrant will do. I know a locally owned company that routinely used H2B work visas for seasonal labor and in 2008 after the housing market crash, they did not. They extended those jobs to Americans instead. They couldn't keep one of them. No one wanted to do the work. The following year they used the H2B Visa program again. How many of you are angry that a tomato picker took the job you wanted picking tomatoes or cutting grass? Let's get real. Did you know our immigration holding facilities are privately funded and there's a huge incentive to keep those beds full? My friend met a mother stopped for a taillight out and she went to "jail" for 10 months fighting to get out for her children. She was deported and her kids went in foster care. I don't condone illegal immigration, but how about we pass a realistic reform first??

  • Susan West Apr 15, 2015
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    Brian Tucker sounds like a disgruntled ex-employee playing dirty.

  • Brian Tucker Apr 15, 2015
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    That lady who owns a painting biz in Cary hires the illegals just so she doesn't have to pay taxes, workmans comp, etc on the employee .... in fact, her husband is an illegal too .... so you know business's don't use the e verify just so they can hire illegals and so the same paying as painter lady. Then you wonder why the schools don't have enough money ... a duh - no taxes paid by illegals = shortfalls with tax money. Wake up people !!!

  • Benjamin Wright Apr 15, 2015
    user avatar

    Don't like how this bill will affect long time illegal immigrants to our country. Not a bad idea but way late and leaving out agricultural work is a joke. Most people who I've suspected of being illegal immigrants that I've met are good hard working people. That being said isn't a crackdown on hiring one of the risks of being an illegal immigrant? Think we should also look at reducing legal immigration to this country as well. Hiring of immigrants both legal and illegal is used to keep wages down. I hope this legislation doesn't result in illegal immigrants turning to crime as employment opportunities dry up.

  • Quinn Satterthwaite Apr 15, 2015
    user avatar

    "They were issuing them willy-nilly. There were people who were arrested that had six, seven, eight consular cards with different names on them – different identities – but the same picture," he said.Yep- time to crack down.

  • Carl Keehn Apr 15, 2015
    user avatar

    Cleveland and co-sponsor Rep. Chris Millis, R-Pender, noted that the General Assembly passed an E-Verify law two years ago that addressed agricultural workers, allowing farmers to hire seasonal workers for up to nine months, instead of the 90-day limit in effect at that time, before the workers would have to undergo an immigration check.
    Read more at http://www.wral.com/house-bill-tightens-checks-on-immigrant-workers/14584032/#uFS086gwIje9Jy47.99

    I would speculate that the bill exempted more than "agricultural workers" that the loophole the GA inserted two years ago, left a hole in the law that a Sherman tank could drive through. Extending the verification period to greater than 9 months, meant that construction workers and other seasonal workers would not require verification.

  • Sam Adams Apr 15, 2015
    user avatar

    As a business owner, there is not one single reason for an employer to not use the e-verify system. Its free and its extremely easy to use. I have been using the system for about 10 plus years (before it was even online). All employers should be required to do this simple basic verification. Its the easiest way to rid ourselves of all the illegals in the state.