Immigration reform is halfway to being a reality in the United States. After years of rancor and debate, Congress has made what can arguably be considered meaningful progress in resolving a problem that has vexed lawmakers for decades. The vote is also important in that it legitimizes what has been only rumors and political talk involving potential change.
Among the major portions of the bill, it would grant immediate legal status to an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants currently residing in the United States. It would also grant them a path to citizenship.
Arguably the most critical factor was the amendment that strengthened border security across the southern border with Mexico. The bill called for spending an additional $30 billion on border security, and apportioned additional border patrol agents to stem the problem of illegal entry.
The bill passed with a supermajority (60 votes) and garnered support from a number of Republicans. In the 68-32 vote, 14 Republicans supported the bill.
The victory in the Senate does not mean that passage in the House of Representatives is a forgone conclusion. A number of Republicans have expressed deep concerns about the bill, and others have vowed not to support it. House Speaker John Boehner explained to ABC News that for the Senate version to be considered in the House, it would have to gain support from a majority of Republicans, something that it did not have despite bipartisan support in the Senate.
In the meantime, the House of Representatives is working on its own immigration reform bill. If it passes in the House, it would have to be reconciled with the Senate version.
Source: ABC News.com, Senate passes immigration reform bill, June 27, 2013