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On a visit to Hendersonville Monday to ride in the parade that honors the apple, Gov. Pat McCrory defended his veto of a bill that apple growers say they need to ensure an adequate supply of harvest labor.
One of just two bills the first-year governor vetoed eased immigration background check requirements for temporary hires. The bill waived the requirement for E-verify checks for workers hired for nine months or less; the threshold had been 90 days.
"I agree with the part that helps farmers," he said. "The problem is it's written for many more people than just farmers. In fact, the word farmer is not in the bill, and you're going to have a lot of other industries take advantage of this giant loophole, which is really against the immigration enforcement — contractors, restaurants, manufacturers.
"Ninety days to nine months, and the word farmer is not in the bill. I agree with helping farmers but the bill was written so broad I think it's going to hurt the immigration law, and E-verify is something I supported as mayor and I support as governor."
The bill passed with veto-proof margins in both the House and Senate and legislative leaders say they have the 60 percent majority needed to override the veto.
"I don't know," McCrory said when asked about his vote count. "I think a lot of people didn't know what they were voting for, and some are afraid to retract something they've already voted for. I want to help the farmers but this bill is disguised as being for farmers only when it is much broader than that."
McCrory also said he would look as early as Tuesday into signing a federal disaster declaration that makes North Carolina farmers eligible for assistance to recover from this summer's rain and flood damage. South Carolina and Tennessee governors have signed the declaration. McCrory has not.