By Ned Barnett
RALEIGH, N.C. (Reuters) - North Carolina lawmakers
passed a bill Saturday requiring businesses with 25 or more
employees to check the citizenship status of job applicants on
a federal database called E-Verify.
After a 24-month phase-in period, the legislation will
require about 40 percent of the state's businesses to verify
the immigration status of potential hires.
E-Verify compares information from an applicant with
Department of Homeland Security and Social Security
Administration data to confirm employment eligibility.
The measure passed the House in a 67-45 vote after
undergoing changes in the Senate. Both chambers are controlled
The final bill disappointed its chief sponsor, Republican
Representative George Cleveland, who wanted the requirement
applied to all businesses regardless of size.
The bill, now headed to Governor Beverly Perdue's desk,
provides an exemption for agriculture companies that employ
people such as crop pickers for 90 days or less. The Democratic
governor has not said if she will sign the measure into law.
Cleveland said the measure would not cover many
undocumented immigrants working in the state.
"The people that we really should be looking at are not
covered at all because most illegal aliens in the state are not
being hired by big corporations," Cleveland told Reuters.
He said he proposed the bill to help citizens looking for
jobs in North Carolina, where unemployment is higher than the
"We have some 280,000 illegal aliens in this state and
we've got 9.7 percent unemployment," he said. "Of course I'm
looking for jobs for the people of this state."
Several states have enacted immigration restrictions, even
though the U.S. government considers it to be a federal issue.
Last week, U.S. Republican Representative Lamar Smith
introduced a bill that would require most of the country's
employers to verify electronically the immigration status of
(Edited by Colleen Jenkins and Jerry Norton)
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