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Senate passes immigration reform bill

On Thursday afternoon, the U.S. Senate passed a bill that marks the most significant reform of U.S. immigration law in decades. The bill passed by a 68-32 vote. The Senate’s 52 Democrats were joined by 14 Republicans and two independents in support of the bill. Lawmakers have attempted unsuccessfully to pass legislation overhauling the current immigration system multiple times in the past 10 years.

Most people expected that the immigration reform bill would easily pass the Senate, where it has enjoyed bipartisan support. Many believe, however, that the bill will face significant obstacles in the House due to conservative opposition. In fact, House Speaker John Boehner has said that Republican lawmakers in the House will focus not on the Senate bill, but rather on their own legislation. 

Perhaps the most significant and controversial portion of the immigration reform bill passed by the Senate is the so-called “path to citizenship” provision. This would provide an opportunity for those 11 million people currently in the U.S. illegally to become citizens. Before this would go into effect, however, the bill requires that certain measures be taken to increase border security. Republican leadership in the House has been vocal in its criticism of the path to citizenship, saying that the majority of people in the U.S. want immigration policy that is grounded in securing our borders.

In the current political climate, it is difficult to say whether Congress will be able to pass some form of immigration reform bill, but many experts are optimistic that it will happen. 

Source: New York Times, “Senate, 68 to 32, passes overhaul for immigration,” Ashley Parker, June 27, 2013

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