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North Carolina Passes Citizenship Check Requirement

Saturday, 18 Jun 2011 10:37 PM

 

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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 by Republicans.

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 national average.

"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 potential employees. (Edited by Colleen Jenkins and Jerry Norton)

© 2014 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

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