COLUMBIA — After several long months of deliberations and finger-pointing, and many re-writes later, South Carolina's plan to rein in illegal immigration is on its way to Gov. Mark Sanford's desk.

The House approved the bill Thursday in a 94-16 vote. Democratic Reps. Seth Whipper and David Mack, both of North Charleston, and Floyd Breeland of Charleston, were the only local House members to vote against the bill.

The Senate gave final approval to the bill Wednesday.

Sanford has given indication of his support for the bill as drafted in its final form.

"There's been a lot of back and forth on this bill over the past few weeks, but we believe the end result that the Senate approved today is what everyone was after the whole time — a strong and enforceable immigration bill," Sanford said in a statement Tuesday when the Senate gave the bill key approval.

Many lawmakers have said that in recent years there has not been an issue that has caught the public's attention, nor divided the Legislature, quite as much as illegal immigration.

By far the most controversy has been over how to verify the legal status of workers. The bill requires all businesses to check the legal status of workers by using a state driver's license, a license from another state that has the same eligibility requirements or E-Verify.

E-Verify is the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's free, online database that lets employers check Social Security numbers. The state's Employment Security Commission must help employers use the database.

For more on the story, read Friday's editions of The Post and Courier.