Immigration bill is OK'd by committee

ATLANTA --- A Georgia Senate committee on Wednesday approved an altered version of a House bill that aims to crack down on illegal immigration but kept intact many provisions similar to those in a tough law enacted last year in Arizona.

The Senate Judiciary Committee approved the bill sponsored by Rep. Matt Ramsey, R-Peachtree City, but the version that cleared the panel is a hybrid of Ramsey's bill and a similar measure sponsored by Sen. Jack Murphy, R-Cumming. A House committee on Monday had gutted Murphy's bill and substituted the text of Ramsey's bill.

The version of Ramsey's bill that was approved by the Senate committee still would authorize law-enforcement officers to check the immigration status of certain criminal suspects and penalize people who transport or harbor illegal immigrants.

The new version also retains language that would require employers with more than four workers to verify the immigration status of new hires using a federal database called E-Verify.

The new version does not include a section that would have allowed individual citizens to sue local governments and agencies that don't use federal databases to check the legal status of new hires.