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Panel Approves Tough Immigration Bill (Mar 02, 2011)

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The author of a sweeping anti-illegal immigration bill says he jokingly suggested Oklahoma erect a wall around the state to keep out illegal immigrants because he's frustrated the federal government won't take action on the issue.

Freshman Sen. Ralph Shortey, R-Oklahoma City, made the comment Wednesday during debate on his bill in the Senate Appropriations Committee. The panel voted 9-7 for the measure, which gives law enforcement officers broad powers to question and arrest suspected illegal immigrants and seize their property in some cases.

Several members voiced concern about provisions in the bill that require all employers to verify the citizenship status of their workers and the chilling effect such requirements may have on businesses.

Democratic leader Sen. Andrew Rice said the bills are politically motivated and just "for show."

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