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Missouri Senate debates illegal immigration

By Marshall Griffin, KWMU

Jefferson City, MO – The Missouri Senate spent nearly nine hours Tuesday debating a wide-ranging bill that targets illegal immigrants.

But senators did not pass anything.

After debating nearly two dozen amendments and adding several of them to the bill, the Senate set it aside shortly before 11:30PM Tuesday.

Those amendments added an extra $100,000 in costs, which mean an extra committee hearing is required before the bill can move forward.

State Senator Jeff Smith (D, St. Louis) urged the body to vote down the bill if it comes back before them for a full Senate vote.

"Every one of us had ancestors that came here from somewhere else, and if the type of anti-immigrant xenophobic fervor had prevailed in those times, it would have been much more difficult for many of our ancestors," Smith said.

The bill includes provisions that would train state troopers to enforce federal immigration laws, bar cities from enacting sanctuary policies, and would require driver's license tests be given in English without translators present.

State Senator Scott Rupp (R, Wentzville) says if the bill fails, Governor Blunt has promised to call a special session.

"And I think if that were to happen, and when you have everyone in the state looking at the special session on one particular issue, then I would say those that are fearful of the changes that we're suggesting should be very fearful," Rupp said.

The 2008 session ends Friday at 6:PM.

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