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

Tunnel Bombs Highlight Savagery of Aleppo Fight

Rebels have used tunneling tactic near government buildings, command posts or supply routes to set off explosives; they detonated their largest bomb this week under Syria's intelligence headquarters More

Sierra Leone Launches New Initiative to Stop Ebola Spread

Government hopes Infection and Prevention Control Units, IPC, will help protect patients and healthcare workers More

UN Official: Fight Against Terrorism Must Not Violate Human Rights

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights says efforts by states to combat terrorism are resulting in large scale rights violations against the very citizens they claim to defend More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boyi
X
Jeff Seldin
March 05, 2015 2:36 AM
A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.
Video

Video Volunteer Gauge-Watchers Help Fine-Tune Weather Science

An observation system called CoCoRaHS is working to improve weather science, thanks to thousands of volunteers across the country who measure precipitation in their own backyards, then share their data through the Internet. VOA's Shelley Schlender reports.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video African Americans Recall 1960s Fight For Voting Rights

U.S. President Barack Obama and thousands of people will gather in the small southern U.S. city of Selma, Alabama, Saturday, March 7 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of a historic voting rights march that became known as “Bloody Sunday." VOA’s Chris Simkins traveled to Alabama and introduces us to some of the foot soldiers of the voting rights struggles of the 1960s.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Cyber War Rages Between Iran, US

A newly published report indicates Iran and the United States have increased their cyber attacks on each other, even as their top diplomats are working toward an agreement to guarantee Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon and to free Iran from international sanctions. The development is part of a growing global trend. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More