Following the August 15 veto of HB 786, the “RECLAIM NC Act” by Governor Pat McCory, the North Carolina General Assembly voted to override his decision to veto the bill which creates a loophole to hire illegal alien workers in the state.

Last Tuesday — September 3, the NC House voted 84-32 to enact HB 786. The following day, with less than six minutes of consideration, the NC Senate overrode the veto by a vote of 39 to 5. With the necessary three-fifths vote to override the veto in both houses achieved, HB 786 became law effective immediately.

HB 786 amends North Carolina’s E-Verify mandate that was passed in 2011. Prior to the passage of HB 786, North Carolina law required employers with 25 or more employees to verify the employment eligibility status of all employees through the E-Verify program unless the employee worked less than 90 days in a 12-consecutive-month period. The new law increases the exemption from 90 days to 9 months.

E-Verify is a free, web-based system through which employers may verify the work authorization of new hires through existing federal records. In 1996, Congress created E-Verify in the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IRIRA) as a way to help employers comply with the federal ban on hiring unauthorized aliens.

The change was championed by business interests who desire to skirt federal law and utilize a cheap illegal labor force. Although these employers must still comply with the I-9 work authorization process under federal law, the employers prefer the I-9 process because it is easy to cheat and unreliable. The I-9 process merely requires employers review documents submitted by the employee and make a self-determination whether the documents appear valid on their face.

By comparison, E-Verify effectively catches almost all employment related fraud because it verifies the documentation submitted by the employee is valid and the name, Social Security Number, date of birth, gender and photographic identification provided match in several federal government databases.

In his veto message on August 15, Governor McCrory described HB 786 as “a loophole that would allow businesses to exempt a higher percentage of their employees from proving they are legal U.S. citizens or residents.” McCrory stated further that “[e]very job an illegal immigrant takes is one less job available for a legal North Carolina citizen. We must do everything we can to help protect jobs for North Carolinians first and foremost.”

 

Despite the veto override, Governor McCrory has not given up the fight on behalf of those he represents. He said in a statement last Wednesday that he plans to direct the executive branch “to explore all legal and executive authority to ensure the letter and spirit of our nation’s immigration law is followed in this state.”