BLOGS: Keeping Up With Jones Street

Wednesday, September 25, 2013, 12:12 PM

E-Verify laws in NC are unfair for our largest employers and may discourage growth of our small businesses

In his veto message of House Bill 786 - RECLAIM NC, the Governor states that his objection is, in part, to the widening loophole for verifying legal presence.  I agree with the Governor's intent - which is to protect jobs in North Carolina for North Carolinians. 

But here's the problem:

Existing law in NC only requires employers with 25 or more employees to use E-Verify.  According to the 2010 US Census 65% of the businesses in our state have 19 or fewer employees.  The next category of data the Census compiled is businesses with 20-99 employees so I can't tell you what percentage of our businesses (20-24 employees in addition to the 65% I just mentioned) are completely exempt from E-Verify and continue to use the I-9 requirements to hire new workers.  So it appears that the effect of the law is to keep our largest employers from using available and reliable labor for difficult-to-fill and seasonal jobs while the overwhelming majority of our businesses are free from that additional restriction.

And yes, it is still a violation of federal law to employ workers who are not here legally.  And yes, alien labor is a federal issue.  But Congress is not addressing this problem - or any other problem - this week and we still can't find enough workers.

Friday, September 13, 2013, 12:13 PM

It Was Never About State-Based Immigration Reform

Early this week I had the opportunity to meet Former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff at the NC Farm Bureau at which he described the need for comprehensive federal immigration reform and shared his experience with it while he served in President Bush's Cabinet. He is a smart man with an impressive list of accomplishments - political and otherwise.

Secretary Chertoff rightfully suggests that our immigration system failings and our workforce needs are intertwined. I'm not just talking about the back breaking jobs that North Carolinians won't take, I'm also talking about the jobs that SAS advertizes for folks with Ph.D.'s in math. But since this was the Farm Bureau, and since I was at the NC Legislature watching the strange political showdown of House Bill 786, I'll focus on the need for manual labor in this state.

House Bill 786: RECLAIM NC, was conceived as legislation that acknowledges that North Carolina has illegal immigrants in our workforce and our communities. And since the federal government has not provided any reasonable way for dealing with them the state should at least figure out who they are, weed out the bad apples, make sure they are insured and trained drivers since we know they are on our roads, and figure out how they can participate in our economy in a way that benefits us until the federal government provides a workable legal structure.

The version of the enacted bill requires the state to study the issue of temporary driver's privileges, increasing the crime for the creation and sale of false identity documents, closes some loopholes regarding who must use E-Verify, and provides some relief from E-Verify for seasonal workers. There will be no easy answers.
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