The Senate approved a 1,200 page immigration bill today that would reform the nation’s immigration policy for the first time since 1986.
The bill was approved via a 68-32 vote. All Democrats voted in favor of the White House-endorsed bill, as well as 14 Republicans. Legislators were hoping to attain 70 votes in favor of the bill in order to encourage swift approval from the Republican-controlled House.
President Obama praised the Senate for engaging in bi-partisan discussion on the bill.
"The United States Senate delivered for the American people, bringing us a critical step closer to fixing our broken immigration system once and for all," the President said. "Today, the Senate did its job. It's now up to the House to do the same."
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The bill may face staunch opposition from House Republicans. Speaker of the House John Boehner said representatives will head home for a week before coming back to discuss the bill.
"We're going to go home for the recess next week and listen to our constituents," he said. "And when we get back, we're going to ... have a discussion about the way forward."
Boehner later reiterated that the House will not simply vote on a bill the Senate passes, but will likely draft their own counter-legislation instead.
Most House Republicans are opposed to the path to citizenship the bill would provide. Under the reform, nearly 11 million illegal immigrants would be given a 13-year pathway to legal citizenship. This opportunity has led many Republicans to call it nothing more than an amnesty bill. Senator Richard Shelby (R-Alabama) called the bill “the mother of all amnesties.”
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While many illegal immigrants would be given a pathway to citizenship, the bill would try to prevent future illegal immigrants from entering the country. The bill calls for 20,000 new border agents, 700 new miles of fence along the US-Mexico border, and gives $3.2 billion in new funding to border control agencies. Business would now be required to check on the resident status of potential employees. Caps for highly-skilled worker visas would be raised, and new visa programs would be enacted for low-skill and farm workers.