Senate panel passes controversial immigration bill

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Cutting off debate, the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday approved a controversial, though watered down, immigration bill that backs away from requiring law enforcement agencies from becoming de facto immigration agents and gives employers more options to verify the status of new hires, reports Michael Peltier of the News Service of Florida. Despite a two-hour window and a room packed with potential speakers, debate on the Senate? immigration package (SB 2040) was limited to less than 13 minutes as all but a few of more than 100 who had travelled from as far away as Homestead could only have their names read into the record as opponents of the bill. The panel then voted 5-2 to approve an amended version of the measure that allows employers to use alternatives to the federal E-Verify system by allowing employers to accept other types of documentation to determine if an applicant or newly hired employee is residing in the country legally and eligible to work. Another amendment added to the bill Monday also relaxed requirements for state corrections and law enforcement officials by making it optional for them to enter agreements with the Department of Homeland Security to undergo training and be authorized to enforce federal immigration laws. ?his is not an easy process,?said committee chairwoman and bill sponsor Sen. Anitere Flores, R-Miami. ?e are still very early on in debating this bill. We?e moving forward on this because the federal government

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