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Bill hopes to curb influx of illegal aliens

A local legislator thinks putting pressure on employers may help the state curb an influx of illegal immigrants.

Rep. Brian Thomas, D-Lilburn, filed House Bill 961 to force employers to check on immigrants' status before hiring them.

"There is only one reason that illegal immigrants are here in Georgia, and it has absolutely nothing to do with emergency medical care, public schools or any other public assistance benefits that may or may not be out there," he said. "Simply put, they come to Georgia for jobs."

Thomas said his bill may not gain much support, but state legislators have pledged to make illegal immigration a hot topic under the Gold Dome during the General Assembly session.

The bill requires employers to verify and document employees' eligibility before hiring them. It also gives the state authority to inspect documents and other records including payroll.

Jobless rate remains the same

Gwinnett's jobless rate remained at 4.4 percent in November, up from 4 percent a year ago.

Recent layoffs announced at Panasonic in Suwanee and GCC Drum in Lawrenceville are not reflected in the newest unemployment data from the Georgia Department of Labor.

Xbox fever

Consider yourself lucky or resourceful if you have an Xbox 360 under your Christmas tree.

Many retail locations across Gwinnett and elsewhere, including Circuit City and Toys R Us, didn't have Microsoft's highly sought-after game console in the final week before Christmas. Most didn't even know when the next shipment would be arriving.

The buying frenzy has apparently moved online. The Xbox 360, which sells from $300 to $400 retail, was listed on eBay this past week as high as $1,500.

The 360 is Microsoft's next generation of its original Xbox, which was released in 2001.

Many gaming fans think Microsoft deliberately failed to make enough Xbox 360 heading into the holiday, hoping the shortage would create buzz about the game console.

The company won't say how many Xbox 360 units it made for the holiday season, but it does say it's manufacturing as many as it can to keep up with demand.

Belk may decide to move

While no one wants to talk about it, Belk may decide to close its location on Riverside Parkway in Lawrenceville once the company opens its giant new store at the Mall of

Georgia.

Belk plans to begin renovations on the 120,000-square-foot-store - the current Lord & Taylor - in February, then open in April. Belk will occupy the entire Lord & Taylor space, providing one of the larger locations in its 277-store chain.

- Staff writer Camie Young contributed to this column.