On Thursday the U.S. Senate passed an immigration reform bill (S. 744) by a vote of 68 to 32. Senator Claire McCaskill voted for the bill while Senator Roy Blunt opposed it. The legislation establishes a “military style” effort to close the U.S. Southern border and a 13-year path to citizenship for illegal aliens in the U.S.
The legislation requires the deployment of 20,000 new Border Patrol agents, 700 miles of new fencing and the use of high tech devices to keep close surveillance on the border. Once the border is determined to be secure, the legislation allows illegal aliens already in the country to begin a 13-year process to become citizens. In order to obtain citizenship, illegal aliens will have to pay back taxes, demonstrate English language skills and meet other requirements.
Senators voted from their desks, a practice reserved for the most solemn of occasions. Arizona Republican Senator Jeff Flake recalled 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.”
South Carolina Republican Lindsay Graham castigated critics who complained the legislation would allow citizenship for people with less than a 10th grade education. He said his deceased parents fit that description. Graham also said: “I see this as a significant step toward the U.S. Senate being able to work together in a bipartisan fashion to do something that matters. Is this bill perfect? No… It is a good solution to a hard problem that can always be made better.”
Most observers see a tough road ahead for the legislation as it move to the U.S. House of Representatives.