The state House today passed watered-down legislation that intends to keep illegal immigrants from being hired in North Carolina.
The bill's chief sponsor, Rep. George Cleveland, a Jacksonville Republican, said he was disappointed in the bill after it emerged with changes from the Senate. He said it would only cover about 20 percent of the employers in the state, but still urged his colleagues to support it because it would require more employers to verify hires are legal residents.
The bill requires all employers with 25 or more employees to use the federal E-Verify database to determine if new hires are legal residents. It would be phased in over a period of two years.
"This is just common-sense legislation that our people want and we need to pass it today and get it into law," said House Majority Leader Paul Stam, an Apex Republican.
Opponents said the bill lacks strong enforcement provisions and will encourage the reporting of false complaints. Even a supporter feared that the bill could create "slavery" conditions for some workers because it does not require employers to first check to see if their existing workforce includes illegal immigrants. It only pertains to subsequent hires.
The bill passed the House by a 67-45 vote. It now goes to the governor's desk.
The bill was among dozens of legislation the General Assembly waded through Friday and today as members worked toward the end of the session. The House met all day Friday, and the Senate convened at night; the House planned to finish business this morning.
Find more legislative decisions from the past 36 hours here.