News / USA

US Senate Poised to Approve Landmark Immigration Reform

Michael Bowman
The U.S. Senate is poised to approve a landmark overhaul of America’s immigration laws. A vote could come late Thursday or Friday.
 
On Wednesday, the Senate formally adopted tough border security requirements as a condition for legalizing millions of undocumented immigrants in the United States. It also acted to limit debate on the bill, setting the stage for a final vote expected by the end of the week.
 
The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee tasked with oversight of immigration matters, Democrat Patrick Leahy, all but proclaimed Senate passage of immigration reform a done deal.
 
“It is obvious that a majority - a very large majority, a bipartisan majority - of the Senate will support an immigration bill," he said. 

Special Report -  Immigration: The New Face of America
 
Democratic senators, who are in the majority, all support the bill, as do about a third of Republicans.  Those opposing the legislation, like Texas Senator John Cornyn, say they do not believe it will succeed in blocking future illegal border crossers.
 
“A bill that fails to guarantee a border that is secure and offers only promises, which historically Congress has been very, very, very bad at keeping.  Does that sound like real immigration reform?  I know we can do better," he said. 
 
But fellow Republican Marco Rubio argues the immigration overhaul will be a vast improvement over the status quo.
 
“We have a badly broken immigration system. Not only one that does not work, it actually encourages illegal immigration.  We have a border with Mexico that, despite billions of dollars already spent, is still not secure.  And we have 11 million people living in this country illegally in de facto amnesty.  This is the status quo, and it is a terrible mess," he said. 
 
Senate passage, should it occur, does not guarantee a vote in the Republican-led House of Representatives, or passage if a vote is held.  Only approval by both houses of Congress will send the bill to the White House for President Barack Obama’s signature.

  • Protesters chant as they call for the release of Bertha Avila Medrano, in jail and is facing deportation on immigration charges by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Phoenix, Arizona, May 29, 2013.
  • Immigration reform advocates pray before the start of a Senate Judiciary Committee meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington, May 9, 2013.
  • Rafael Cruz, who is from Mexico, stands in the plant nursery where he works in Homestead, Florida, May 7, 2013.
  • Marchers walk during an immigration reform rally in downtown Los Angeles, California, May 1, 2013.
  • Immigration advocates gather outside the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill as they wait to attend the committee's hearing on comprehensive immigration reform legislation, April 22, 2013.
  • A crowd fills the lawn on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. during the "Rally for Citizenship," where immigrants and their supporters rallied for immigration reform, April 10, 2013. (Alison Klein for VOA)
  • A crowd fills the lawn on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. during the "Rally for Citizenship," where immigrants and their supporters rallied for immigration reform, April 10, 2013. (Alison Klein for VOA)
  • Protesters for immigration reform march near the Georgia Capitol in Atlanta, April 10, 2013.
  • Reyna Avila, who recently received a work permit and Social Security card under an Obama administration policy for young immigrants, is shown at her place of work in Phoenix, Arizona, April 2, 2013.
  • President Barack Obama listens as Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano delivers the oath of allegiance during a naturalization ceremony for active duty service members and civilians at the White House, March 25, 2013.
  • Fatma Atia, who is originally from Egypt and lives in New York, waves an American flag during a naturalization ceremony at Federal Hall, New York, March 22, 2013.
  • Participants take the Oath of Allegiance during a naturalization ceremony at Federal Hall in New York, March 22, 2013.

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