By David Beasley
ATLANTA (Reuters) - The Georgia Senate passed an Arizona-style immigration bill late Monday after removing one of the measure's toughest components.
The legislation would give police 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 E-Verify requirement is the "guts" of the state House of Representatives bill, said Phil Kent, spokesman for the Virginia-based nonprofit Americans for Immigration Control.
Kent predicted that the Georgia House will restore that requirement, and a final bill will clear the legislature later this week.
"We think the prospects are good," he said on Tuesday.
Although Georgia 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)