Editorial: N.C. immigration measures need further study

Jul. 19, 2013 @ 06:23 AM

North Carolina’s current legislative leadership has not proven to be a patient or sensible lot when it comes to hot-button issues. (Exhibit A: how a motorcycle-safety bill became without warning an abortion restriction bill.)

But on immigration, the state House took a sensible step back from hasty action and amended the so-called “RECLAIM NC” Act to have the state Department of Public Safety study many of its proposals and bring the results back to the General Assembly for further action later.

Among the ideas to be studied is one that would have allowed police officers or sheriff’s deputies to take up to two hours to verify the immigration status of a person who was arrested and suspected of being in the county unlawfully. The problem with asking local law enforcement to take on immigration duties is it becomes effectively an unfunded mandate. Local agencies have bigger fish to fry, and they already are stretched thin on shrinking budgets without measures such as this. Other states have tried it, and it makes sense to see what those results were before rushing into it here.

However, one non-study provision is still moving forward — an item prohibiting companies from receiving state and local contracts unless they comply with E-Verify requirements for employees.

That one should be shunted off for more study as well.

E-Verify is a centralized federal system for checking the immigration status of potential employees. The use of it has become one of the mandatory planks in the Republican platform on immigration, and the state has been ratcheting up the mandatory use of it in recent years. The problem is that the system is badly flawed.

A Homeland Security report predicts a national E-Verify system would create a bureaucratic nightmare so bad that “almost 770,000 genuinely legal workers would lose their jobs.”

In a New York Times story, caterer David Boris said his business, which employs 25 to 75 people, depending on the season, wouldn’t be able to keep up with the constant paperwork and bureaucratic errors.

In other words, requiring the use of E-Verify would be, at this point in that system’s development, a classic case of slapping unfunded mandates, costly regulations and a massive, inefficient, unaccountable federal bureaucracy on how private businesses operate. Why on earth are Republicans in favor of that? Send it back for some serious study.