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New this morning: House passes bill aimed at illegal immigration

The Associated Press . Demonstrators protest an immigration bill being voted on inside the Georgia House of Representatives, Thursday March 3, 2011, in Atlanta.

The Associated Press . Demonstrators protest an immigration bill being voted on inside the Georgia House of Representatives, Thursday March 3, 2011, in Atlanta.

Atlanta - Georgia's House followed Arizona's lead Thursday, convincingly passing stringent new legislation targeting illegal immigrants and those who harbor them here.

By a largely party-line vote of 113-56, the Republican-controlled chamber approved House Bill 87, also called the Illegal Immigration Reform and Enforcement Act of 2011.

The 22-page bill now moves to the Senate, where a committee endorsed a similar but shorter measure Wednesday. Republican Gov. Nathan Deal campaigned last year on curbing illegal immigration in Georgia, but he has not yet taken a position on the House and Senate bills.

Like the groundbreaking law Arizona enacted last year, HB 87 would authorize state and local police to verify the immigration status of certain suspects. A federal judge halted a similar provision in Arizona last year after the Obama administration argued it is pre-empted by federal law. Arizona is appealing that judge's decision.

Hundreds of demonstrators -- a loose coalition of black and Latino civil rights groups, labor unions and national groups such as Amnesty International and the American Civil Liberties Union -- gathered outside the state Capitol during the House debate Thursday to denounce the measure as an "Arizona copycat law" and call on Deal to veto it if it comes to his desk. They said the measure is irresponsible and would turn Georgia into a "show-me-your-papers state, reminiscent of slavery and Jim Crow times."