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Monday, February 28, 2011 - 10:16am

House Immigration Bill Passes Committee

A controversial bill intended to crack down on illegal immigration passed out of a house committee Monday.

The measure requires all businesses with more than five workers to check new hires against a federal employment eligibility database.

Its sponsor Republican representative Matt Ramsey of Peachtree City says his bill also prevents people from using false documents to get work.

"We are providing prosecutors in this bill with a new tool to aggressively go after those that use fictitional (sic) identification information in order to obtain employment. It’s a big problem. It jeopardizes employers," says Ramsey.

His measure makes using fake documents a felony offense punishable by up to 15 years in prison and up to a quarter-million dollar fine.

His bill also lets police officers check citizenship status while investigating other offenses.

House minority leader Democrat Stacey Abrams says that amounts to racial profiling and it's unconstitutional. She says the measure in its entirety will hurt business.

"I think we are going to face an economic tsunami. Agriculture and tourism are two of our top industries," says Abrams, "which means we’re saying [not only] to undocumented workers but also to visitors who happen to not look the way we expect them to… that you are on notice that you may be seen as an alien invader in the state of Georgia."

The measure now heads to the rules committee to set a date for a full house vote.