Immigration Bill Passes Senate

 Posted: June 28, 2013

Immigration Bill Passes the Senate

Jessy Gill, CFJC Policy Specialist and Marine Dageville, Climate Change intern

Yesterday, Senators voted on a new immigration bill – the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act – S.744.  After a month-long debate, S. 744 passed with a vote of 68-32, the majority consisting of the Senate Democratic Caucus and 14 Republican Senators*. In order to attain the majority vote, the Senate adopted language that demanded tougher border security before immigrants could gain legal status.

The Senate version of the bill stipulates a 13-year path to citizenship for the 11 million aspiring unauthorized immigrants. The bill also allots $3.2 billion in military-style technology, such as radars and unmanned aerial drones, for the Border Patrol to use in tracking illegal border crossings. Additionally, The Corker-Hoeven amendment, authored by Sen. Corker (R-TN) and Sen. Hoeven (R-ND), was introduced and adopted, making numerous changes to the content of S. 744. The amendment allocates $40 billion over the next 10 years for border enforcement measures, adds 700 miles of new fencing on the Southern border, and doubles the number of Border Patrol agents, totaling 40,000.

Arguably, Bill S. 744 may be a first step in immigration reform; however, it is a one step forward, two steps back reform in more ways than one. Many compromises have been made on the Senate bill, in hopes that the legislation will be ironed out as it moves forward in the authorization process. However, support for the bill has started to dwindle as the severity of the Corker-Hoeven amendment has started to sink in. Presente.org came out stating they could not in good faith support this bill, as it is “guaranteed to increase death and destruction through increased militarization of the border.” The Southern Border Communities Coalition stated, “This amendment makes border communities a sacrificial lamb, in exchange for the road to citizenship.” Additionally, in his first public statement on the matter, Mexican Foreign Minister Jose Antonio Meade said:

“We’re convinced that a wall is not a solution for the migration phenomenon and is not congruent with a modern and secure border. It does not contribute to the development of a region that both countries are looking for and support.”

Now that the bill has passed through the Senate, it is unclear how the House will choose to receive it. House Republican leadership has demonstrated that they wish to write their own bill, and will not vote on what the Senate has passed. One of the proposals in the House is to pass immigration reform as a set of several small bills, rather than one large.

In President Obama’s statement about the Senate bill, he said that “it’s not a bill that represents everything that I would like to see; it represents a compromise.”

We take a “wait and see” approach as the House begins deliberations.

 

* Immigration reform became a top priority for Republicans after Mitt Romney’s defeat in the 2012 presidential election.

Posted: June 25, 2013

Update on Progress of the Senate Immigration Bill

Jessy Gill, CFJC Policy Specialist and Adrienne Pollack, Policy Research Intern

Debate continues today on the Senate immigration bill S. 744, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act. Yesterday, the Senate invoked cloture (to place a time limit on consideration of a specific matter) on the Leahy amendment, as modified by Corker (R-TN)-Hoeven (R-ND). The motion to invoke cloture was passed with a vote of 67 to 27, all 52 voting Democratic Senators voted in favor of cloture, and were joined by 15 Republicans, including Gang of Eight members Jeff Flake, Lindsey Graham, John McCain, and Marco Rubio.

Due to cloture, the Senate must vote on whether to adopt the Leahy amendment, as modified by Corker-Hoeven, by mid-day Wednesday. Leahy amendment #1183 would “substitute the current version of the Senate’s immigration reform bill, S. 744, with a revised version of the bill that includes a host of amendments that have been referred to as the Corker/Hoeven compromise—or, more simply, the border surge. [1]” The Corker-Hoeven amendment includes language to implement: 20,000 additional Border Patrol Agents, 700 additional miles of fencing, and a waiting period of at least 10 years for Registered Provisional Immigrants (RPIs) to receive a Green Card after the enactment of the bill, among other provisions [2].

[1] http://immigrationimpact.com/2013/06/25/beyond-the-border-surge-what-else-is-in-the-senate-compromise/#sthash.OuXqop3v.dpuf

[2] http://www.corker.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/news?ContentRecord_id=9b091a42-f7e4-4751-a361-731db54d835d

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