News / USA

US Senate Panel Begins Immigration Debate

From left, Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., standing, Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, R-Utah, and Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, confer as the Senate Judiciary Committee meets on immigration reform on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, May 9, 2013.
From left, Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., standing, Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, R-Utah, and Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, confer as the Senate Judiciary Committee meets on immigration reform on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, May 9, 2013.
Michael Bowman
The U.S. Senate has begun formal consideration of a landmark bill to overhaul America’s oft-criticized immigration system. The bipartisan proposal faces a long and perilous path through Congress, beginning in the Senate Judiciary Committee, which started work on the bill Thursday.
 
Critics say the United States is awash in undocumented immigrants - 11 million in total - but slow to open its doors to high-skilled foreign workers who would boost America's lackluster economy. Ending illegal immigration, legalizing the undocumented that are already here, and attracting the world’s brightest and best-educated people are central goals of a bill crafted by four Democratic and four Republican senators. 
 
Democrat Charles Schumer touted the proposal at the Judiciary Committee. “It will mean dramatic improvement for the American economy, for the American people, and will make our immigration policy much more in synch with what is good for jobs and America," he said. 
 
Fellow Democrat Richard Durbin agreed. “Our immigration system is broken. The laws we have do not serve us well. And this is our chance in this hearing room to write an immigration bill for the 21st Century - for America and its future," he said. 
 
The bill aims to strengthen U.S. border security, streamline the legal immigration process, and provide a long and arduous path to eventual citizenship for most who entered the country illegally or overstayed their visas.
 
Already, some 300 amendments have been offered to the original framework proposal. Republican Senator Charles Grassley expressed skepticism that the bill as currently written will actually halt illegal immigration.
 
“We need to work together to secure the border first. People do not trust the enforcement of the law," he said. 
 
Republican Senator Ted Cruz agreed, predicting that if the bipartisan bill became law, America would see new waves of illegal immigration in future years.
 
Another Republican, Jeff Sessions, wants to make sure U.S. citizens are not harmed economically when millions of undocumented workers are legalized.
 
“We must be focused more on getting jobs for lawful immigrants in our country, and [for] Americans. [U.S.] wages are not even keeping up with inflation, and that has been true for quite a long time," he said. 
 
Democrats have amendments and priorities of their own. Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy wants guarantees that bi-national gay couples will have the same rights under America’s immigration system as their heterosexual counterparts.
 
Getting an immigration reform bill through both houses of a politically-divided Congress will be no easy feat. Provisions favored by Democrats, who control the Senate, might make the bill unpalatable to Republicans, who control the House of Representatives - and vice-versa.
 
Senator Schumer made a plea to his colleagues, saying “Be constructive. We are open to changes. But do not make an effort to kill a bill that is the best hope for immigration reform that we have had in this country.”
 
Sorting through the hundreds of amendments and crafting a final bill could take weeks. If approved by the Judiciary Committee, it would then go to the full Senate for a vote. Should it pass, attention would then shift to the House, which could vote on the Senate bill or write its own version. Only after both houses of Congress pass an identical immigration reform bill would it go to the White House for President Barack Obama’s signature.
 
Polls show a majority of Americans favor immigration reform, including a path to eventual citizenship for the undocumented. 

You May Like

Video Snowstorm Sweeps Northeastern US

'This is nothing like we feared it would be,' New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio says; he had warned storm could be one of worst in city history More

Millions of Displaced Nigerians Struggle With Daily Existence

Government acknowledges over a million people displaced in 2014 due to fight against Boko Haram insurgency More

Facebook: Internal Error to Blame for Outages

Temporary outage appeared to spill over and temporarily slow or block traffic to other major Internet sites More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visiti
X
Aru Pande
January 26, 2015 9:33 PM
U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visit

U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video US, EU Threaten New Russia Sanctions Over Ukraine

U.S. President Barack Obama has blamed Russia for an attack by Ukrainian separatists that left dozens dead in the port of Mariupol and cast further doubt on the viability of last year’s cease-fire with the Kyiv government. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington.
Video

Video White House Grapples With Yemen Counterterrorism Strategy

Reports say the U.S. has carried out a drone strike on suspected militants in Yemen, the first after President Barack Obama offered reassurances the U.S. is continuing its counterterrorism operations in the country. The future of those operations has been in question following the collapse last week of Yemen’s government. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Kerry Warns Against Violence in Nigeria Election

US Secretary of State John Kerry visited Nigeria Sunday in a show of the level of concern within the U.S. and the international community over next month’s presidential election. Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sides

The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Saudi, Yemen Developments Are Sudden Complications for Obama

The death of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah and the collapse of Yemen’s government have cast further uncertainty on U.S. efforts to fight militants in the Middle East and also contain Iran’s influence in the region. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports on the new complications facing the Obama administration and its Middle East policy.
Video

Video Progress, Some Areas of Disagreement in Cuba Talks

U.S. and Cuban officials are reporting progress from initial talks in Havana on re-establishing diplomatic ties. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State (for Western Hemisphere Affairs) Roberta Jacobson said while there was agreement on a broad range of issues, there also are some “profound disagreements” between Washington and Havana. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.

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

All About America

AppleAndroid