U.S. Law Center

Immigration bill to be heard on the Senate floor

The landmark immigration reform bill continues its arduous journey through the U.S. Sentate, and will now be readied for debate on the Senate floor. On Monday, the bill cleared its most important hurdle; passage through the Senate Judiciary Committee.

According to an ABC News.com report, the committee considered nearly 300 proposed amendments to the bill, but the proposal passed without any major alterations. It passed by with a bi-partisan 13-5 vote, meaning that both Republicans and Democrats made concessions to make the bill work.

Tech companies received what they wanted through the amendments. The new bill will expand the number of temporary visas (H-1B) for technical workers such as software engineers. However, it was not changed to abolish the requirement that companies first seek U.S. born employees before seeking foreign talent.

As for same-sex couples, the bill would not grant the same rights afforded to heterosexual couples. This provision faced heavy opposition from Republicans who threatened to kill the bill because it (in essence) redefined marriage under federal law. Currently, the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) defines marriage as between one man and one woman. Democrats reportedly conceded that portion of the bill in order to keep it moving through the Senate. They vowed (at a different time) to address same-sex marriage in a way that would apply to all Americans.

The amendments also included provisions to increase border security. Instead of relying on broad statements such as "higher levels", the Department of Homeland Security was tasked to reach 90 percent of effectiveness in preventing unauthorized access to the country.

With the bill to be debated by the Senate body, a vote is expected in June. 

Source: ABC News.com, Immigration reform heads to Senate floor:where it stands, May 21, 2013

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