Georgia lawmakers pass immigration control bill

Reuters News
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Posted: Apr 12, 2011 5:25 PM
Georgia lawmakers pass immigration control bill

By David Beasley

ATLANTA (Reuters) - The Georgia House of Representatives passed an Arizona-style bill to limit immigration on Tuesday, one day after the state Senate approved a similar proposal.

The legislation would give police the authority to question suspects about their immigration status.

But state senators stripped out a requirement for many private employers to check the immigration status of newly-hired employees on a federal database called E-Verify.

The Georgia House voted to restore the E-Verify requirement.

The bill will now go back to the Senate and likely end up in a joint House-Senate conference committee, said Phil Kent, spokesman for the Virginia-based nonprofit Americans for Immigration Control.

Kent predicted that a final bill will clear the legislature later this week.

"We think the prospects are good," he said on Tuesday.

Although Georgia's Republican Governor Nathan Deal has not said whether he would sign the legislation, Kent is optimistic.

On Monday, a U.S. appeals court agreed with an earlier court ruling that blocked parts of Arizona's controversial immigration law from going into effect. That included the provision that would require police to determine the immigration status of a person they have detained and suspect is in the country illegally.

Georgia, like Arizona, will face millions in legal fees if it enacts similar legislation, state Senator Curt Thompson told reporters on Monday.

Kent said the appeals court ruling was no surprise and should not deter Georgia.

Arizona-inspired immigration measures also are proceeding through legislatures in Alabama, Indiana, Oklahoma and South Carolina. Utah has passed, and the governor signed, an Arizona-inspired measure which also included other provisions such as a guest worker program.

(Edited by Colleen Jenkins and Greg McCune)