House OKs tighter check on immigrant workers

Posted April 23, 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 on Thursday.

— 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 on Thursday.

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.

People in the United States illegally cost North Carolina $1.7 billion a year, Cleveland said.

"It's our responsibility to our citizens to make sure that they are not subsidizing illegals," he said during a lengthy debate that elicited claims of intolerance.

"Let's remember, we're all God's children," said Rep. Paul Luebke, D-Durham, objecting to Cleveland's tone and choice of words.

"To criticize people just because they use the word 'illegal' is living in a fantasy world," said Rep. Jeff Collins, R-Nash.

"We just need to have a little bit of compassion for people that, for reasons of economic strife or political strife in their homeland, sought the United States as a new homeland, a new place of opportunity," said Rep. Graig Meyer, D-Orange. "They don't want to be here to take away from anyone."

The bill would require cities and counties to use E-Verify for independent contractors, but it exempts farm workers and domestic help. The state's agricultural industry pushed back against efforts two years ago to expand E-Verify.

Rep. Ken Goodman, D-Richmond, said the 25-employee threshold was adopted two years ago as a compromise, and lowering it to five employees "creates a burden" for small businesses.

"They just can't comply as easily as a major manufacturer," Goodman said.

Rep. Chris Millis, R-Pender, said several other Southeastern states already require all employers to use E-Verify.

"We opened the barn door far too wide in the past. This is a corrective measure," said Rep. Chris Whitmire, R-Transylvania.

The bill, which now heads to the Senate after a 80-39 vote, 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.

"There is no reason, other than being an illegal alien in this state, for having a consular card," he said. "They have generated innumerable problems for the state."


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  • Carl Keehn Apr 27, 2015
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    I also took a look at the proposed bill, which does eliminate the 9 month loophole, but opens another giant loophole in exempting "independent contractors." Their definition of an independent contractor would basically exempt anyone in the building trade, the loophole is already being used by employers to get out of worker's compensation issues.

  • Carl Keehn Apr 27, 2015
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    The 9 month clause may be intended to protect the farmers who require undocumented aliens but in fact does not state so.

    GS 64-25(3) in fact reads, Employee. – Any individual who provides services or labor for an employer in this State for wages or other remuneration. The term does not include an individual whose term of employment is less than nine months in a calendar year.

    This actually leaves the law wide open to any seasonal employee, including those working in the building trades and landscaping. For that matter, as long as the employee is not employed for more than 9 months, it would leave things wide open to exploitation.

    The important thing to remember about any law is not the intention but what the law actually reads. In the case of GS 64-25, the law does not specifically identify agricultural workers.

  • James Johnson Apr 24, 2015
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    View quoted thread

    No, That "9-months" definition is in the current law as a way for farmers to continue to hire illegals to pick their crops. The new bill exempts farmers completely from e-verify so the definition of a "temp" employee doesn't apply. The new bill states, any employer with 5 or more employees would have to use e-verify....period. (And you don't have 9 months to do it, it is immediate).

  • Abrams Gunner Apr 24, 2015
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    I agree with Norman Lewis. In 2012 over 1 million people obtained LEGAL permanent resident status. Over 418k were deported of which over 200k were criminals. If you can't follow the law and enter this country legally how can we expect you to abide by any other laws?

  • Don Dickerson Apr 24, 2015
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    Used cars now cost up to double what they were just 5 to 7 years ago; low-cost housing is at least 50% more expensive than 5 years ago; grocery stores have seen a 20-30% increase in staple and agricultural prices while quality is an industrial-age low. Exactly how are we benefitting from all these increased costs?

  • Quinn Satterthwaite Apr 23, 2015
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    Can anyone name me someone who is "anti-immigrant"?Ceasar Chaves was pretty anti-immigrant.

  • Tammy Rush Apr 23, 2015
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    Don't the businesses still have 9 months to verify the legal status of their employees?

  • James Johnson Apr 23, 2015
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    Not one single republican on that House floor is "anti-immigrant". (I would venture to say no democrat either) In fact, I can't think of anybody who is "anti-immigrant". I've never met anyone who is "anti-immigrant". Can anyone name me someone who is "anti-immigrant"?

  • Matt Wood Apr 23, 2015
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    "The bill would require cities and counties to use E-Verify for independent contractors, but it exempts farm workers and domestic help."

    This bill doesn't go far enough!

  • Norman Lewis Apr 23, 2015
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    Interesting when the talk turns to enforcing laws against being in the country illegally, certain groups start crying racism or intolerance. Would we listen to say a group of burglars, or robbers (also illegal activities) if they complained the police were biased against them? We are a nation of immigrants but the LEGAL kind. If the huge number of illegals in the country did not cost the society hundreds of millions a year in legal, medical, welfare and other expenses, they might find more sympathy from the public. Any legal immigrant is welcome.