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Senate moves immigration bill forward

Photo by Philip Jean

Photo by Philip Jean

ATLANTA - By a vote of 39 to 17, the Georgia Senate approved House Bill 87 after nearly three hours of debate and a lengthy and sometimes confusing discussion about several amendments.

Among other things, the Senate eliminated a provision in the bill that would have required many private businesses to use a federal work authorization program called E-Verify. That program helps businesses confirm their newly hired employees are eligible to work in the United States.

The bill now moves one step closer to Gov. Nathan Deal's desk for his signature, but the process is far from over. Because the Senate substantially amended the bill, it must now go back to the House, which has been pushing for a tougher crackdown to include the E-Verify requirement for private businesses.

Time is running out. Thursday is the deadline for bills to pass this year's legislative session. And while Deal campaigned last year on curbing illegal immigration in Georgia, he has not yet taken a position on HB 87.