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IMMIGRATION LAW MAY TOUGHEN

State lawmakers on Tuesday unveiled a series of immigration-related bills aimed at making it tougher to hire illegal immigrants, limiting public services they can receive and penalizing anyone who brings them into Florida.

The last proposal comes in response to a unique problem facing Florida: the growing number of Cubans and others smuggled across the Florida Straits each month.

But the majority of the half-dozen bills reflect similar measures proposed in states across the country, all backed by the national, nonprofit Federation for Immigration Reform, which supports a freeze on nearly all immigration.

Rep. Gayle Harrell, R-Stuart, led the call for tighter immigration laws during a news conference at the state Capitol.

"We want to make sure the state of Florida can do everything in its power to deal with illegals," she said. "It's a federal issue, but there are things states can do."

Harrell has proposed a law that would make it illegal for any state funds to go to day labor centers where illegal immigrants are among those seeking work, usually in construction and gardening.

Those supporting the proposals, including Rep. Don Brown, R-De Funiak Springs, represent the Republican Party's most ardent hard-liners when it comes to immigration, and it's unclear how much support they will generate from the rest of the Legislature.

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