News / USA

US Senate Passes Landmark Immigration Bill

Immigration Overhaul Clears US Senatei
X
June 27, 2013 10:31 PM
The U.S. Senate has approved a landmark overhaul of immigration laws. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the bill is a top item on President Barack Obama’s agenda, but faces an uncertain future in the House of Representatives.
Michael Bowman
The U.S. Senate has approved a landmark overhaul of immigration laws by a 68 to 32 vote. The bill is a top item on President Barack Obama’s agenda, but faces an uncertain future in the House of Representatives.
 
The Senate’s comprehensive reform bill provides a long and arduous path to residency and eventual U.S. citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants.  
 
Democrat Richard Durbin helped craft the bill and explains the provisions.
 
“To have 11 million people come forward, identify themselves, register with our government, pay their taxes, pay a fine, submit themselves to a criminal background check before we allow them to stay in this country," he said. 
 
The bill also seeks to streamline legal immigration, with an emphasis on attracting high-skilled workers.  And it mandates a “surge” in U.S. border security, as noted by Republican Senator Marco Rubio.
 
“This proposal mandates the most border and interior security measures in our nation’s history.  For example, it requires and funds the completion of 700 miles [1,126 kilometers] of real border fence.  It adds 20,000 new border agents.  It details a specific technology plan for [monitoring] each sector of the border," he said. 
 
All Democratic senators backed the bill, joined by about one-third of Republicans.  Opponents, like Senator David Vitter, doubt it will achieve its security goals.
 
“The amnesty is first, virtually immediately.  The enforcement is later, maybe," he said. 
 
Other Republicans argued adding millions of undocumented immigrants to America’s legal workforce would depress wages and add to unemployment.
 
But according to a non-partisan congressional analysis, the Senate bill would boost U.S. economic growth and reduce federal deficits, a projection highlighted by Democratic Senator Charles Schumer.
 
“Fewer illegal immigrants, higher GDP [gross domestic product], more jobs, reduced deficit," he said. "Who could oppose that?”
 
Republican Bob Corker was one of many senators who noted the vast contributions immigrants make to America, regardless of their legal status.
 
"They are walking across our border to work hard, to do all kinds of things.  They create companies and they are entrepreneurs.  They also raise our kids, they serve us meals, they bring our crops in, they build our homes, they build our buildings.  They want to participate in the American dream," he said. 
 
But opposition to the Senate’s vision for immigration reform runs high among Republicans who control the House of Representatives.  House Speaker John Boehner has ruled out a vote on the Senate bill.
 
Instead, the House could pass border security measures mirroring Senate provisions, but skip legalization of the undocumented.  An enforcement-only approach would be unacceptable to Democrats, including President Obama.

On Twitter, the reaction to the bill's Senate passage hinted at the divisive debate expected in the lower house of Congress.

You May Like

Turbulent Transition Imperils Tunisia’s Arab Spring Gains

Critics say new anti-terrorism laws worsen Tunisia's situation while others put faith in country’s vibrant civil organizations, women’s movement More

Burundi’s Political Crisis May Become Humanitarian One

United Nations aid agencies issue warning as deadly violence sends tens of thousands fleeing More

Yemenis Adjust to Life Under Houthi Rule

Locals want warring parties to strike deal to stop bloodletting before deciding how country is governed More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threati
X
Greg Flakus
May 29, 2015 11:24 PM
Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threat

Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video New York's One World Trade Center Observatory Opens to Public

From New Jersey to Long Island, from Northern suburbs to the Atlantic Ocean, with all of New York City in-between.  That view became available to the public Friday as the One World Trade Center Observatory opened in New York -- atop the replacement for the buildings destroyed in the September 11, 2001, attacks.  VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Purple Door Coffeeshop: Changing Lives One Cup at a Time

For a quarter of his life, Kevin Persons lived on the street. Today, he is working behind the counter of an espresso bar, serving coffee and working to transition off the streets and into a home. Paul Vargas reports for VOA.
Video

Video Modular Robot Getting Closer to Reality

A robot being developed at Carnegie Mellon University has evolved into a multi-legged modular mechanical snake, able to move over rugged surfaces and explore the surroundings. Scientists say such machines could someday help in search and rescue operations. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Shanghai Hosts Big Consumer Electronics Show

Electronic gadgets are a huge success in China, judging by the first Asian Consumer Electronics Show, held this week in Shanghai. Over the course of two days, more than 20,000 visitors watched, tested and played with useful and some less-useful electronic devices exhibited by about 200 manufacturers. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.

VOA Blogs