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Senate passes immigration overhaul bill

By DAVID ESPO and ERICA WERNER
June 27, 2013

en. John McCain, R-Ariz., left, and Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., right, two of the authors of the immigration reform bill crafted by the Senate's bipartisan "Gang of Eight," shakes hands on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, June 27, 2013, prior to the final vote. The historic legislation would dramatically remake the U.S. immigration system and require a tough new focus on border security. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

en. John McCain, R-Ariz., left, and Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., right, two of the authors of the immigration reform bill crafted by the Senate’s bipartisan “Gang of Eight,” shakes hands on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, June 27, 2013, prior to the final vote. The historic legislation would dramatically remake the U.S. immigration system and require a tough new focus on border security. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

With a solemnity reserved for momentous occasions, the Senate passed historic legislation Thursday offering the priceless hope of citizenship to millions of immigrants living illegally in America’s shadows. The bill also promises a military-style effort to secure the long-porous border with Mexico.

The bipartisan vote was 68-32 on a measure that sits atop President Barack Obama’s second-term domestic agenda. But the bill’s prospects are highly uncertain in the Republican-controlled House, where party leaders are jockeying for position in advance of expected action next month.

Spectators in galleries that overlook the Senate floor watched expectantly as senators voted one by one from their desks. Some onlookers erupted in chants of “Yes, we can” after Vice President Joe Biden announced the vote result.

After three weeks of debate, there was no doubt about the outcome. Fourteen Republicans joined all 52 Democrats and two independents to support the bill.

In the final hours of debate, members of the so-called Gang of 8, the group that drafted the measure, frequently spoke in personal terms while extolling the bill’s virtues, rebutting its critics — and appealing to the House members who turn comes next.

“Do the right thing for America and for your party,” said Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., who said his mother emigrated to the United States from Cuba. “Find common ground. Lean away from the extremes. Opt for reason and govern with us.”

Arizona Republican Sen. Jeff Flake said those seeking legal status after living in the United States illegally must “pass a background check, make good on any tax liability and pay a fee and a fine.” There are other requirements before citizenship can be obtained, he noted.

He, too, spoke from personal experience, recalling time he spent as a youth working alongside family members and “undocumented migrant labor, largely from Mexico, who worked harder than we did under conditions much more difficult than we endured.”

Since then, he said, “I have harbored a feeling of admiration and respect for those who have come to risk life and limb and sacrifice so much to provide a better life for themselves and their families.”

The bill’s opponents were unrelenting, if outnumbered.

“We will admit dramatically more people than we ever have in our country’s history at a time when unemployment is high and the Congressional Budget Office has told us that average wages will go down for 12 years, that gross national product per capita will decline for 25-plus years, that unemployment will go up,” said Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala.

“The amnesty will occur, but the enforcement is not going to occur, and the policies for future immigration are not serving the national interest.”

But with a weeklong July 4 congressional vacation looming, the bill’s foes agreed to permit the final vote one day before Senate rules mandated it.

In the Senate, at least, the developments marked an end to years of gridlock on immigration. The shift began taking shape quickly after the 2012 presidential election, when numerous Republican leaders concluded the party must show a more welcoming face to Hispanic voters who had given Obama more than 70 percent of their support.

Even so, division among Republicans was evident as potential 2016 presidential contenders split. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida was one of the Gang of 8, while Sens. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Ted Cruz of Texas were opposed to the bill.

The legislation’s chief provisions includes numerous steps to prevent future illegal immigration — some added in a late compromise that swelled Republican support for the bill — and to check on the legal status of job applicants already living in the United States. At the same time, it offers a 13-year path to citizenship to as many as 11 million immigrants now living in the country unlawfully.

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Copyright  © 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Copyright  © 2013 Capitol Hill Blue

 

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4 Responses to Senate passes immigration overhaul bill

  1. woody188

    June 27, 2013 at 11:22 pm

    Didn’t work with the last amnesty that allowed 3 million law breaking immigrants a path to citizenship. That bill also had guarantees of more border protections and stricter penalties for businesses that hired law breaking immigrants. They chose to ignore the enforcement, which brought us the additional 13 million law breaking immigrants they want to give a legal status to now.

    Make no mistake, this is about guaranteed cheap labor for the next decade and nothing more.

    Meanwhile, Government Motors, those guys we bailed out and lost $10 billion tax payer dollars on, is expanding in Mexico.

    I guess we should be happy they are investing about 1/6 of that amount in Missouri. Doesn’t really make me feel Obama made a good investment or that we’re seeing much, if any thank you from a company that wouldn’t even exist if it weren’t for US tax payers.

    Next time they need a bail-out, tell ‘em to ask Mexican tax payers instead.

    • Carl Nemo **==

      June 28, 2013 at 12:22 am

      Spot-on commentary Woody188. I’m thinking this bill is going to have a tough time in the Republican controlled House though, not that they too aren’t into facilitating cheap labor for the captains of industry, but the midterms are approaching and many of the reps are going to play it safe with their constituents that are against amnesty, the loss of jobs and hate Hispanic people on general principles.

      My concern is if the idea for a national i.d. card has been dropped from the bill. I haven’t had a chance to find a copy in .pdf format. It’s the sneaky stuff that they insert that’s more terrifying than the main body of the bill itself.

      Just seeing Senators Schumer and McCain pressing the flesh in the photoop is enough to make my skin crawl, both elitists and globalists to core that would sell out the U.S. for just a few dollars, euros or shekels more. Ugh! : (

      Carl Nemo **==

  2. Sandy Price

    June 28, 2013 at 9:25 am

    Woody and Carl, I certainly appreciate both your opinions and doubts. I’ve lived all my life in mixed neighborhoods all over California and never had a problem respecting African Americans or Latinos.

    I have developed a deep seated resentment for the Republican leadership who have tried to make me, as a female, feel incapable of equality. I made my two daughters extra strong and capable of being professionals in their lives.

    I don’t have much faith in the future of America unless we can replace those two-faced fools who despise the rest of us who refuse to hate others.

    Voting against instead of for candidates has taken the fun and joy out of our elections.

  3. griff6r

    June 28, 2013 at 11:01 am

    Great, that’s all this country needs is 13 million more Democrats.