The House's refusal to exclude the provision makes the bill's fate uncertain, though sponsors in both chambers say they'll continue to work on it as the end of the session Thursday looms. The bill would also authorize law enforcement officers to check the immigration status of certain criminal suspects.
Rep. Matt Ramsey, the bill's sponsor, presented the new version that would require private employers with more than 10 workers to prove they check their workers' immigration status in a federal database before they could get a business license or other documents needed to operate. The Senate had passed a version of the bill Monday night that stripped that language.
After the House voted 115-59 to approve the new version, it was sent immediately back to the Senate.
``We're hoping for an agreement," Ramsey said. "It's a very good bill.''
Sen. Jack Murphy, the sponsor of a Senate immigration bill, said after the House vote that he wasn't surprised by the House's actions.
"That wasn't unexpected," he said.
He said the bill will likely be taken up Tuesday afternoon in the Senate and that a motion to agree on the language would likely come to a vote. If senators vote to accept the new version with no amendments, the bill would go to Gov. Nathan Deal. Deal hasn't indicated whether he would sign it. If the senators reject the new language, the bill could be dead for the session or could go to a joint committee that would seek a compromise.
D.A. King, an anti-illegal immigration activist who lives in Marietta, was at the Gold Dome on Tuesday, lobbying senators to agree to the House's changes and get the legislation on the governor's desk, where he believes it will be signed.
"The governor has promised during his campaign to support this style of law and E-verify. We're all confident the governor has every intention of signing it into law as he promised during his campaign," King said. "This bill goes about the root cause of illegal immigration, and it is a horror story for illegal aliens and the people who employ them. My goal for the last 10 years has been to reduce or eliminate illegal immigration in Georgia, and this bill is a double giant step to that end. If signed into law, it would reduce illegal immigration in Georgia by 200,000 to 300,000 before the end of the year due to outward migration."
The restored provision that requires employers to check on their workers mirrors that in an amendment that was proposed in the Senate Monday night but that failed to pass, Ramsey said. In presenting the new version, Ramsey called changes made by the Senate Monday night "curious."
The new version of the bill still includes provisions that would allow law enforcement officers to verify the immigration status of certain criminal suspects and another that penalizes people who transport or harbor illegal immigrants. It removes language added by another Senate amendment Monday that would have required those criminal suspects to have committed a felony before being subject to that check.
The new version does amend the harboring and transporting language to reflect concerns brought to his attention that people who work for a charity or church could get in trouble for giving someone a ride. The new language excludes an employer who's transporting an employee who was lawfully hired or a person who's ``providing privately funded social services.''
The new version also incorporates some language drawn from Murphy's bill clarifying the verification requirements for contractors and subcontractors.
The new version also establishes an Immigration Enforcement Review Board consisting of seven members - three appointed by the governor, two by the lieutenant governor and two by the House Speaker. The panel would be charged with investigating any complaint by a Georgia registered voter about non-compliance with state immigration laws by a public agency or employee.