Local Politics

Bill Would Crack Down on Employers of Illegal Workers

Posted April 13, 2007 7:08 p.m. EDT

— State lawmakers are considering a proposal that could put more pressure on businesses to ensure their employees are legal U.S. residents.

House Bill 1485 seeks to tighten up efforts to verify citizenship for people charged with crimes and those who receive public assistance. It also would require businesses operating in North Carolina to check on the immigration status of their workers.

"I think it's a major problem that we're facing," said Rep. Nelson Dollar, R-Wake, who co-sponsored the bill. "All employers, both public employers and into the private sector, need to ensure that the individuals they're hiring that are citizens in this state lawfully in the United States."

Lawmakers stepped up efforts to verify citizenship for public workers last session.

But some business owners said the latest proposal amounts to more unnecessary government regulation.

Chuck Wright, a conservative Republican who owns a local property maintenance company, said the stance of most conservatives on the Hispanic work force is wrong.

"It's not about cheap labor or under-the-table labor. That's not it at all," Wright said. "These people are not tax filers, but trust me, they are taxpayers."

He hired a private human resources firm years ago to make sure his workers pass the immigration paperwork test. But he said he's still not happy about more regulation motivated by what he considers myth.

"This is going to tie up my competitors with a bunch of government bureacracy, and that's actually going to help me," he said. "But ideologically, this is going to create a government bureacracy, and government bureacracies do one thing -- sustain themselves."