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House panel approves tougher immigration bill

A House panel rejected Democratic attempts to weaken a major immigration bill Wednesday, approving the measure to authorize Arizona-style police powers and give driving permits to those here illegally.

The 9-3 vote in the Judiciary Subcommittee included a few Democrats who favored a revised version, which came after the original bill drew serious opposition. "It's well balanced now," said Rep. Paul "Skip" Stam, the speaker pro tem. "It's a law enforcement bill."

The measure -- House Bill 786 -- now heads to the Finance Committee. It allows police to detain those suspected of being in the country illegally for up to 24 hours. Democrats wanted to remove controversial provisions about detainments and appropriate documentation but failed largely along party lines. "I came in here with a bill and I'd like to leave with one," Rep. Harry Warren, a lead sponsor. 


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