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Times wires

Arizona's sweeping new immigration law doesn't even take effect until July 29, but lawmakers in 18 other states say they want to push similar measures when their legislative sessions start up again in 2011.

Arizona's law, approved in April, requires police to check the immigration status of anyone they think is in the country illegally. Violators face up to six months in jail and $2,500 in fines.

Similar legislation may have the best chance of passing in Oklahoma, which in 2007 gave police more power to check the immigration status of people they arrest.

Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and South Carolina have introduced bills similar to Arizona's law, but none will advance this year.

In addition, state immigration legislation is being considered in Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Maryland, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, Nevada, Ohio, Texas and Utah.

President Barack Obama has called Arizona's law irresponsible, but Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer says it helped prompt him to send 1,200 National Guard members to the U.S.-Mexican border, mostly to her state. She and U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., say that's not enough.

Obama is asking Congress for $600 million in emergency funds for 1,000 more Border Patrol agents, 160 new federal immigration officers and two unmanned aircraft, but immigration is not his top priority this year. An Associated Press-GfK poll this month found that 85 percent of people rank immigration as an important issue; about half disapprove of Obama's handling of it.

White House nears legal showdown

A White House showdown with the state of Arizona over its tough new immigration law is likely to unfold next week, when the Obama administration is expected to file a lawsuit aimed at blocking the state's bid to curb illegal immigration on its own, according to people familiar with the administration's plans. Arizona officials are girding for the legal challenge. The state has raised $123,000 in private donations to defend the law, according to Gov. Jan Brewer's office. Money has come in from all 50 states, in donations as low as $1.

McClatchy Newspapers