CRF Blog

Senate Passes Comprehensive Immigration Bill

by Damon Huss

(Wikimedia Commons.)

With broad bipartisan support, the Senate passed a bill today to overhaul the U.S. immigration system. The bill passed with a 68-32  majority. It is the first comprehensive immigration bill passed since 1986.

The provisions of the bill had been largely drafted by the “Gang of Eight,” a group of four Republican and four Democratic senators, including Sens. John McCain (R-AZ), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Charles Schumer (D-NY), and Bob Menendez (D-NJ). The Gang of Eight had unveiled the proposed bill at a press conference in April of this year.

The New York Times reports on the major provisions of the bill in the version that was passed today, as well as the political realities of the bill’s potential passage in the House of Representatives:

The Senate bill provides a 13-year path to citizenship for the 11 million unauthorized immigrants in the country, as well as tough border security provisions that must be in place before the immigrants can gain legal status.

Though overhauling the nation’s immigration system became a priority for many Republicans after the 2012 presidential election, in which the Republican nominee, Mitt Romney, was rejected by Hispanic voters, immigration opponents have mounted last-ditch efforts to derail the bill, which they say would offer amnesty without any real enforcement measures.

As the bill heads to the House, Republican elites and their well-financed pro-immigration groups are running up against opposition from the chamber’s most conservative members. Speaker John A. Boehner threw cold water on any hope that the House would vote on the Senate plan, and he insisted that whatever immigration measure his chamber took up would have to be supported by a majority of his Republican conference. [more]

Border security became a critical point of debate before the Senate could pass the bill. One of the key provisions is to add 20,000 new Border Patrol agents and 700 miles of fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border.

For more information, please see articles and classroom lessons at CRF’s Educating About Immigration web site.