Buoyed by expanded majorities, Republicans at the state level are stepping up their push to pass Arizona-style immigration laws even as a federal court weighs whether to strike down the original legislation.

Mississippi was the latest state to make gains on the issue, with the state House voting Thursday for a bill that would let officers check immigration status during traffic stops and other encounters. The bill passed the Senate last week, though it will probably be the subject of negotiation in the coming weeks as the chambers work out differences between the two versions.

The action could signal an early wave of immigration bills moving through the state capitals in 2011. While Mississippi doesn’t elect a new legislature until later this year, several other states that held elections in November are now watching their capitals become more conducive to such anti-illegal immigration measures as Republicans enter the legislature in greater numbers.

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