On Thursday, the United States Senate passed an overhaul to the immigration system with bipartisan support. The piece of legislation includes a pathway to citizenship, but also requires militarization of the US-Mexico border.
68 senators – 54 Democrats and 14 Republicans – voted to approve immigration reform based on the proposal of the bipartisan “Gang of Eight” senators charged with overhauling the immigration system. A key victory for progressives is the inclusion of a pathway to citizenship for the 11 million people currently living in the United States without proper documentation. However, before that path can be made open to those 11 million people, five conditions must be met, including doubling the amount of agents at the US-Mexico border, adding an addition 750 miles of fencing, and establishing an E-verify system for determining a person’s visa status. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), a member of the Gang of Eight and a staunch conservative, remarked “This border-security measure blows my mind. We’ve practically militarized the border.”
President Obama applauded the Senate’s bipartisan efforts, saying in a statement “Today, with a strong bipartisan vote, the United States Senate delivered for the American people, bringing us a critical step closer to fixing our broken immigration system once and for all… The bipartisan bill that passed today was a compromise. By definition, nobody got everything they wanted. Not Democrats. Not Republicans. Not me. But the Senate bill is consistent with the key principles for commonsense reform that I – and many others – have repeatedly laid out.” He continued, “Now is the time when opponents will try their hardest to pull this bipartisan effort apart so they can stop commonsense reform from becoming a reality. We cannot let that happen. If you’re among the clear majority of Americans who support reform – from CEOs to labor leaders, law enforcement to clergy – reach out to your Member of Congress. Tell them to do the right thing.” Graham also applauded the Senate’s efforts, saying “This is as good as it gets in the Senate.”
However, the bill appears dead on arrival in the House of Representatives. In a released statement prior to the debate, Speaker of the House John Boehner said, “Immigration reform must – I mean must – be grounded in real border security. That’s what the American people believe, and it’s a principle that this House majority will insist upon.” He elaborated with reporters, “I issued a statement that I thought was pretty clear, but apparently some haven’t gotten the message: the House is not going to take up and vote on whatever the Senate passes. We’re going to do our own bill.”