Florida is spending $3.3 billion a year on services for its immigrant population, and that sum could double in less than a decade, according to a Washington-based foundation.

The Carrying Capacity Network said that if immigration to Florida continues to grow at the current rate, the state will be spending $6.8 billion for services to this population by 2002.

The current $3.3 billion annual figure includes $734 million that the state spends to support 226,000 residents who have lost their jobs due to immigration.

The $3.3 billion estimate represents 8.5% of the state's $38.2 billion all-funds budget in the current fiscal year, which began July 1.

Like the governors of a number of other states, Gov. Lawton Chiles has sued the federal government to force it to share the financial burden of immigration.

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