In Historic Vote, Senate Passes Bipartisan Immigration Bill

But this may be as far as it goes.

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Yuri Gripas / REUTERS

The Senate voted to pass a sweeping overhaul of U.S. immigration laws on Thursday, sending its landmark bill to the House of Representatives with a strong showing of bipartisan support and setting up the next phase in the fight to reform the immigration system for the first time in a generation.

The measure was approved 68 to 32, with 14 Republicans joining all 52 Democrats and two Democratic-leaning independents to back the bill. The final tally fell just shy of the 70-vote target touted by its architects. But winning a two-thirds majority was a significant achievement that ships the legislation across the Capitol on a wave of momentum.

Six months ago, much of Washington was skeptical that such a contentious bill could survive a polarized Senate. But the eight Republicans and Democrats who drafted the measure did a shrewd job of uniting powerful stakeholders from all bands of the political spectrum. They engineered agreements and maintained harmony between bitter adversaries: liberals and conservatives, union bosses and business lobbies, high-tech firms, agricultural interests, immigration advocates and Republican strategists.

(MORE: Immigration Bill Faces Tough Odds in the House)

Democrats supported the measure unanimously, a sharp contrast from the failed effort to pass comprehensive immigration reform under George W. Bush. A tough and costly border-security deal, brokered by a pair of conservatives, brought along more than a dozen Republicans — a sign of the party’s recognition that it must repair its relationship with Latinos to compete on the national political playing field.

The Senate bill offers undocumented immigrants who entered the U.S. before 2012 a 13-year path to citizenship, while also reforming visa programs, requiring employers to verify the eligibility of their workers and beefing up security by doubling the amount of agents stationed on the southern border. “Today is a good day for the Senate, and for the country,” said Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont, who helped steer the measure through committee and managed it on the floor.

According to an analysis by the progressive Atlas Project based on data from Kantar Media, immigration-reform supporters outspent opponents on broadcast media by a ratio of about 3 to 1. Though right-wing critics decried what they said were the bill’s flaws, the broad grassroots outcry that helped sink the Bush-backed immigration-reform bill never materialized.

The vote itself was gilded by all the ceremony the Senate can summon. Vice President Joe Biden presided. Majority Leader Harry Reid required members to vote from their wooden desks, rather than with a casual flick of the thumb. Though the practice has been technically required since 1984, these formal roll calls are reserved for occasions of great moment. “They do it when it’s a particularly important vote,” says associate Senate historian Betty Koed. In recent years, such votes have included passage of Obamacare, a resolution commending the military and intelligence communities on the killing of Osama bin Laden, and the confirmation of Supreme Court justices Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor. When Biden announced the final tally, a chant of “Yes We Can” — Barack Obama’s old campaign war cry — broke out in the chamber gallery.

But Thursday’s triumph may be the last one worth celebrating for some time to come. While polls have shown that the majority of Americans support the effort to revamp the U.S. immigration system, the measure will struggle to overcome strong objections among many members in the Republican-controlled House. “The House has no capacity to move that bill in its entirety,” Representative Peter Roskam, the House Republican deputy whip, told reporters on Thursday. “It is a pipe dream to think that that bill is going to go to the floor and be voted on.”

House Republicans will begin to sketch out their immigration strategy at a conference meeting on July 10, after Congress returns from a week-long recess. Speaker John Boehner has said that any bill that emerges from the House should have a majority of support from both parties. But it is hard to fathom a compromise that would satisfy both the Republican majority, which is leery of comprehensive reform and prefers a piecemeal approach that enforces security provisions first, and the bipartisan Senate bill that ties border security to the path to citizenship.

Though the future of the bill is murky, advocates heralded Thursday’s vote as a triumph — and perhaps a harbinger that the polarization which has frozen the Senate has begun to thaw. “I see this as a significant step toward the U.S. Senate being able to work together in a bipartisan fashion to do something significant,” said South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham, one of eight senators who spent months crafting the legislation. “This should give you a little bit of hope.”

MORE: Boehner in a Bind on Immigration

40 comments
Benhenli
Benhenli

Yes. US is built on immigration.No  Immigration  No American Dreams.  all the creativity is originated in Immigration spirit.

retiredvet
retiredvet

"Historic?" Because Congress has something half done and the prospects are dim for actual passage?

terryclifton1
terryclifton1

This is just another Corporate Welfare Bill that is full of billion's of dollars of pork. This bill will destroy our way of life, and push the middle class even deeper into poverty. Democrats and Republican's that voted for this bill do not care about us, they care about donations and contributions to their re-election coffers. We are screwed if this albatross passes the house.

ChavoViejoRocker
ChavoViejoRocker

and also for those who wants to send illegals back home. Go to IRS and complain over there. They have all the information about the illegals. Just ask.the ones who report taxes with the ITIN number.

ChavoViejoRocker
ChavoViejoRocker

We are hiring people 7 per hour no benefits. Is a janitorial company. The jobs are there but we need the people whose really wants to work.

WalterWhite1
WalterWhite1

White genocide is being carried out by requiring White countries and ONLY White countries to take in millions of people from the 3rd world and force integrate and force assimilate with them. There is no debate, ALL White countries must be flooded with non-Whites and accept forced diversity. Anyone who objects is called a "Nazi" or "KKK." Africans, Asians, Arabs, and Jews are all free to have countries, communities, and institutions committed to their own interests. Only Whites are denied this right. This is genocide.

Nogig
Nogig

Citizens should have NO ILLUSIONS about the Senate "immigration reform" bill.  This was NOT legislation about immigrants living illegally in our nation. This was legislation written by corporate lobbyist before packaging as "immigration reform".

This is about cheap foreign labor for corporations and MASSIVE expansion to foreign "guest worker" programs. This is about corporate control of YOUR government.  And the rewards for hundreds of millions of corporate dollars spent on lobbying and propaganda.

This legislation is simply INEXCUSABLE at a time of high and sustained unemployment, falling wages and an abundance of citizens with the skills, education and intelligence for available jobs.

Make no mistake, this was a direct betrayal of our nation and citizens for corporate profit.

lightdee
lightdee

There's a BIG issue here nobody seems to be talking about.  It's the massive increase in HB-1 visas the bill adds.  This is a big problem for tech workers and our collective future.  Tech businesses want a bunch of cheap engineers, programmers, etc. who are beholden to those individual companies.  Those people come over from India & China, depress wages for tech workers and then they go back a few years later, because they are not citizens & they got the experience they need.  Then they improve the tech industries in their homelands and leave the US worse off.  Why?  Because of the depressed salaries and non-level playing field, US college students don't go into those fields and we are left with a weaker workforce in the long run.  This cycle was especially bad in the late 90's and early 2000's.  The HB-1 program is short-term gain for tech companies but longer term it's bad for the US and our own engineers and programmers.  We need to improve our own tech workforce through education and training and not try to go on-the-cheap by importing Chinese and Indian temps.

CharlesEdwardBrown
CharlesEdwardBrown

Its a sad day for America when 68 US Senators turn traitor to their own people in favor of pandering to special interests and criminals. We need our immigration laws enforced and instead the US Senate insists on repeating the same mistakes made in 1986. We need to make it clear to our representatives in Washington that we need our laws enforced. NO AMNESTY and No pathway to US citizenship for illegal aliens. Deport all illegal aliens. Write laws that make it impossible for an illegal alien to ever get or keep a job in the United States.

NP042
NP042

“The House has no capacity to move that bill in its entirety,” Representative Peter Roskam, the House Republican deputy whip, told reporters on Thursday. ”It is a pipe dream to think that that bill is going to go to the floor and be voted on.”

And why is that, I wonder?  Perhaps it's because the Republicans are afraid of being on the (voting) record for being against it? Or are they (the leadership) afraid it would actually pass, which runs counter to everything they've done so far?

kbanginmotown
kbanginmotown

Photo Caption: "Puttin' on the Riiiiiiiitz....!"

kuei12
kuei12

Keep in mind, ANY immigrant that is a millionaire or billionaire can become a citizen in 1 day.

BlueDuck
BlueDuck

This is good for everybody.

ScottV
ScottV

Why would anyone care whether it was historic? The WTC attacks in 2001 were "historic" in many ways; does that mean that 9/11 was good? "Historic" is the print media's way of saying they approve of something.

But is it really historic? The Senate voted for an amnesty bill in 1986.

Kinnison
Kinnison

Where's the list of the 14 Republicans that voted for this piece of crap?  They will shortly be seeking other employment or bailing out via the retirement route because they know they will never be reelected again.

jbob
jbob

the American people don't want biometric ID... this is what it is all about.

bobcn
bobcn

The legislators who are always complaining about government spending realized that adding 20,000 new border patrol agents is going to cost a fortune. Although they're always ready to spend the public's money (as long is it goes to their patrons or to causes that are guaranteed to not actually accomplish anything) they were a bit concerned that this might crowd out room for more spending on new military hardware (and the empty parking lots needed to store it).  Fortunately, they've discovered that they can reduce the costs by hiring the new agents from the groups of people who stand around in the Home Depot parking lots in the early morning.  

jmac
jmac

If I were a Republican congressman I wouldn't want McCain lecturing me on my vote in the House seeing  how he turned tail when his job was on the line.   Plus there are now hard-line Senators to back up Republican House members.  Senator Cruz wants to secure the border first and has a petition out?   Well, McCain was vocal in 'build the dang fence'  when his job was in jeopardy and the party is more right-wing now than it was then.   The only thing that's changed is the looming hispanic vote - the voices they deliberately brought over to appease the Chamber of Commerce.  Boehner wants a "majority of votes from both parties".     Is he going to have the Democrats to lunch to save his soul?     

therealdude
therealdude

It isn't really news because, just like the abortion bill, it has no chance of actually happening.

BobSheepleherder
BobSheepleherder

Pretty sweet deal. Thirteen years and in the mean time have a bit of welfare, free medical and preference in school.

DaveFrancis
DaveFrancis

The inept immigration reform bill has passed in the Senate; nevertheless it’s full of exemptions, giant loopholes, waivers and special privileges for the unknown numbers of illegal aliens and special interests, with nothing of financial benefit for jobless Americans. All those who pressed for this poorly drafted volume of garbage, will be assured of getting a pink slip, especially Republicans who turned collaborator. This document as it stands will never pass the house, as one Representative said “It’s a Pipe Dream”

Incidentally Rep. Paul Ryan is dead meat, who signed on to this awful de-facto amnesty

Senator Ted Cruz of Texas has launched a national petition. It is at SecureBordersNow.com,” Cruz said. “In just a week, we’ve had 100,000 people from all over the country sign that petition speaking out to say ‘Do not do legalization first. Secure the borders first, fix the problem.”?

Also Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas has set up an email address for people to contact if they believe they were targeted by the IRS. That address is: IRSTarget@Cruz.Senate.gov. A petition seeking to abolish the Internal Revenue Service recently started by the American Center for Law and Justice and since moved to its own website abolishirsnow.com. The time has gone to eradicate the IRS and deliver to the American taxpayer a Fair tax code, which allows no exemptions for anybody including welfare for corporations. Learn more about the concealed facts at numbersusa.com and americanpatrol.com & the legal information about corruption in Washington and in state assemblies at judicialwatch.orgYou can Contact by phone100 Senators and 435 Representatives for State or Federal at toll-free number -- 1-888-978-3094--.You may phone the United States Capitol circuit at (202) 224-3121. A terminal operator will connect you directly with the Senate office or just about anybody in Washington you request to speak with. 

tommyudo
tommyudo

@Nogig 


But, but, but - the bill would create thousands of new border guard jobs, as well as construction jobs building a $45 billion dollar 700 mile long monstrosity of a fence  In the meantime, people that want to come here can come by boat  and land in the thousands of inlets in the Gulf Coast and California. That will also create jobs for  charter boat captains.

Of course, this whole issue is a joke perpetuated by a group of  cowardly weak-kneed pols who won't do the right thing, because they want to be re-elected. In case you haven't noticed, being a DC pol is an awfully sweet gig.

Benhenli
Benhenli

@Kinnison The reason this 'crap' got passed by Senate is it is good for America's future. Man,Don't be sad, You are gonna benefit from it in long run.

robinjones
robinjones

Don't think so!! I have been a lifelong Republican and these brave souls who voted their consciences will have my vote and many many others.  I am sick to death of cowards from BOTH parties who only think of reelection, not doing the right thing.

RobertParent
RobertParent

@Kinnison GW also had great ideas on Immigration reform... but they couldnt get through the "we are better than you" attitude of his own party.

robinjones
robinjones

Are you Native American? Where did you come from? My ancestors would have broken the law, if necessary, to come here for a better life.  Kind of think yours would have too....

robinjones
robinjones

Absolutely untrue and YOU KNOW IT!

cent-fan
cent-fan

@CharlesEdwardBrown Okay, in the end nothing happens.  It doesn't get past the House.  Your answer is to go further to the right.  Your candidates for President and Congress are flung to the right.  The middle and the left reject them.  They don't win election.  More bills come up and you go further to the right for "absolute solutions".

All the while the practical power running this country, the corporations out for profit and the politicians out for votes in more than rural counties are beyond your influence because you've left the table.

RobertParent
RobertParent

@DaveFrancis hey I know where they are hiring to pick tomatoes ....and they pay overtime for the extra 4 hours of your 12 hour day.... let me know if you want to apply.

BobJan
BobJan

@DaveFrancis 100,000 people  is equal to .035%. Woo-hoo. By the way, Paul Ryan was dead-meat last November, so what else is new.

BobSheepleherder
BobSheepleherder

@robinjones What does that have to do with anything? Did your ancestors expect everything handed to them on a silver platter, as you seem to, or did they expect to work for it like the rest of us? I am a taxpaying citizen who's daughter has been denied certain classes in the local university system because they are full and part of the reason they are full is because there have been set asides for illegals! Some of them even get scholarships, for pete's sake! Grow up.

terryclifton1
terryclifton1

@robinjones  

Robin's comments were brought to you by the big corporations looking for cheaper labor..That Native American argument is literally so tired, it ranks 2nd to it's Bush's fault, it's Bush's fault.

BobSheepleherder
BobSheepleherder

@robinjones I KNOW that what I wrote is EXACTLY true! I pay for a lot of this, I am well aware where my tax money goes. You should make an effort to educate yourself on where yours goes ... if you actually pay anything.

CharlesEdwardBrown
CharlesEdwardBrown

@cent-fan @CharlesEdwardBrown  What about the law? We have laws against illegal immigration and thousands of illegal aliens are being deported. We have a back log of 11 million illegal aliens. Our Federal Government fails to do their job and instead offers them Amnesty. This is not a Left or Right thing. This is about following the law. About encouraging people to do the right thing. How can anyone get a good start in life if they start it as a criminal. Better that they go back and do it the right way.

cent-fan
cent-fan

@CharlesEdwardBrown  I agree with your argument to a point.  I've long thought if you starve the job sources and close a few doors you make it more attractive for folks to make the changes necessary in their own country instead of coming here.  Unfortunately the logistics, the paper pushers, and the massive amount of money the taxpayers are unwilling to pay to make it all happen leaves us with 11 million people that ain't going anywhere.

Make a bigger fence, hire more border patrol agents, hire more law enforcement and State Department administrative people to process the illegals they catch, make more holding facilities, hire more cops to track them down after they get past the borders and into the city, hire more Dept. of Labor (or whoever) investigators to go company to company to check their hiring records or match their money outlay with the bodies they show are working there, hire more gov lawyers to defend all the cases popping up, and hire and build and hire and build and tax and tax.  You see how the simple "Someone dropped the ball and the traitors have to pay" doesn't solve much in the real world... especially in a struggling democracy... and I mean the USA.