A bill filed in the State House threatens to criminalize the normal and legal activities of hundreds of small business owners. House Bill 308 “State Contracts/ Illegal Immigrants” filed by Rep. George Cleveland would mandate participation in a voluntary federal program by everyone who enters into a contract with the State of North Carolina for “construction or repair work or for the purchase of apparatus, supplies, materials, or equipment”.
The Bill would increase the cost of running State Government by burdening businesses entering into State contracts with more red tape and legal liability. It would lead to employment discrimination against legal aliens and promote outsourcing to foreign companies not subject to United States immigration laws. Many small businesses will either shun State Contracts or increase bids to cover costs.
Currently all employers are required to file Employment Eligibility Form I-9 for all employees, citizens and noncitizens, hired after November 6, 1986. House Bill 308 requires participation in the voluntary Basic Pilot Employment Verification Program, a joint project of the Department of Homeland Security, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services and the Social Security Administration.
The Basic Pilot Employment Verification Program is an online voluntary pilot program in which the employment eligibility of all newly hired employees are confirmed after the Employment Eligibility Verification Form (Form I-9) has been completed. After verification by the Social Security Administration of valid Social Security numbers for all employees and certain work authorizations for some employees, the Department of Homeland Security provides employers with access to selected data from the DHS database to conduct automated verification checks on newly hired alien employees.
The verification is only valid after the hiring of an individual and only for new hires after the date of signing of a Memorandum of Agreement (MOU) between the Employer, the SSA and the DHS. However the Bill requires verification for each individual employed by the contractor to perform the work under the contract. This is not legally possible for employees hired before the signing of the MOU yet the Bill requires certification that the employer has verified the legal status of each individual employed by the contractor to perform the work under the contract.
Any legal alien hired before the date of the MOU could not work on a State contract covered by the Bill as an employer could be charged with a Felony. An employer who complies fully with Basic Pilot Employment Verification Program could be found guilty of a Class I Felony if they certify to the State that they have verified the legal status of each individual performing the work.
Provisions of the Bill will be particularly onerous in times of disaster when contracts for “construction or repair work or for the purchase of apparatus, supplies, materials, or equipment” are necessary for emergency response and, verification is impossible due to either limited time frame or lack of basic communications access or equipment necessary for online verification.
Cross posted at Progressive Pulse