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North Carolina governor signs law to check citizenship

RALEIGH, North Carolina (Reuters) - Democratic North Carolina Governor Beverly Perdue on Thursday signed into law a measure requiring businesses with 25 or more employees to check the citizenship status of job applicants on a federal database called E-Verify.

The legislation will require about 40 percent of the state's businesses to verify the immigration status of new hires following a 24-month phase-in period.

The bill provides an exemption for agriculture companies that employ people such as crop pickers for 90 days or less. The state is also home to some of the biggest hog farms and slaughter plants in the nation, including Smithfield Foods.

Several states have enacted immigration restrictions, even though the U.S. government considers it to be a federal issue.

On Tuesday, lawmakers in South Carolina approved a bill that will require all employers to use E-Verify to check their employees' residency status.

The E-Verify measure in North Carolina was one of 22 bills Perdue signed into law on Thursday.

She vetoed a bill that would require voters to present photo identification before casting a ballot.

(Reporting by Ned Barnett. Writing by Colleen Jenkins. Editing by Peter Bohan)