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Mass. GOP Senators Push Illegal Immigrant Measure

Republicans in the Massachusetts Senate are backing a measure designed to crack down on illegal immigrants receiving public benefits.

The proposed Senate budget amendment would require anyone seeking benefits to be cleared by a federal database designed to weed out those in the country illegally.

Republican lawmakers say the measure will toughen existing restrictions. They couldn't say how many illegal immigrants are receiving public benefits or how much the new system would cost taxpayers.

"The United States has immigration laws that deserve to be enforced," said Sen. Bruce Tarr, R-Gloucester. "And what we're trying to do is step up to the plate and say the commonwealth of Massachusetts will assist in the enforcement of the laws of this country."

Senate President Therese Murray said the state already has safeguards in place to bar illegal immigrants from receiving public benefits. She called the amendment "smoke and mirrors."

A similar measure, originally sponsored by Sandwich Republican Rep. Jeffrey Perry, was narrowly defeated in the House.

This program aired on May 25, 2010. The audio for this program is not available.

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