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Immigration hardliners seemed to have true believers, but some Republicans are straying from the flock (access required)

With Republicans in firm control of Arizona’s government apparatus and Sen. Russell Pearce leading the Senate, more aggressive laws against illegal immigration seemed certain to emerge from the 2011 legislative session. But cracks are showing in the reputed Republican bastion built on dominance in the Arizona Legislature and Governor’s Office.

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Senate panel passes birthright bills

After a rocky start, the birthright legislation finally received committee approval on Feb. 22, overcoming the initial hurdle before the full Senate can debate and vote on the measure that is stirring so much raw emotion and is solidifying Arizona’s reputation as ground zero in the struggle to confront illegal immigration.

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Pearce drops “omnibus” immigration bill

Although he calls it a mere “clean-up bill,” Senate President Russell Pearce is pushing legislation to tighten immigration laws by denying illegal immigrants access to public benefits, from operating or titling vehicles to enrolling in community colleges.

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Jobs bill survives late Senate debate (access required)

Despite strong objections from Democrats and some Republicans, the Senate leadership Tuesday evening pushed ahead to debate the jobs bill, a maneuver that moves the business-tax-cutting legislation closer to passage.

Having cleared the debate, the bill now goes to the full Senate for a formal “aye” or “nay” vote, which is expected on Wednesday, Feb. 16.

Whether the measure has sufficient support to pass — it needs only 16 votes — is uncertain.

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