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Immigration bill in works in General Assembly
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 ATLANTA — A key Republican state lawmaker on Tuesday outlined a bill he plans to file intended to crack down on illegal immigration in Georgia.

Rep. Matt Ramsey, co-chair of a committee that studied the issue in the fall, announced his proposal for an "Illegal Immigration Reform and Enforcement Act of 2011" on Tuesday.

Ramsey told The Associated Press he plans to file the proposal this week.

His proposal calls for requiring private employers to use a federal database called E-Verify to ensure that their hires are eligible to work in this country, Ramsey said. Currently only public employers and their contractors are required to use the system in Georgia.

The legislation also would require applicants for taxpayer-funded services to present "secure and verifiable identification documents" to ensure illegal immigrants don't have access to public benefits they are barred by law from receiving. It also would seek to provide "new tools for law enforcement officers" give them "greater latitude in handling immigration issues during a lawful stop or detention."

Ramsey added that his measure contemplates establishing greater incentives for law enforcement agencies to apply to participate in federal partnerships that aid in identification and transfer of illegal immigrants. He said it also would create criminal penalties for anyone who encourages an illegal immigrant to come to Georgia or who transports or harbors an illegal immigrant who's in the state.