The U.S. Senate is poised to approve a landmark overhaul of America’s immigration laws. A vote could come late today or Friday.
Wednesday the Senate formally adopted tough border security requirements as a condition for legalizing millions of undocumented immigrants in the United States. It also acted to limit debate on the bill, setting the stage for a final vote expected by the end of the week.
The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee tasked with oversight of immigration matters, Democrat Patrick Leahy, all but proclaimed Senate passage of immigration reform a done deal.
“It is obvious that a majority, a very large majority, a bipartisan majority, of the Senate will support an immigration bill,” he said.
Democratic senators, who are in the majority, all support the bill, as do about a third of Republicans. Those opposing the legislation, like Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, say they do not believe it will succeed in blocking future illegal border crossers.
“A bill that fails to guarantee a border that is secure and offers only promises, which historically Congress has been very, very, very bad at keeping. Does that sound like real immigration reform? I know we can do better,” he said.
But fellow Republican Marco Rubio argues the immigration overhaul will be a vast improvement over the status quo.
“We have a badly broken immigration system. Not only one that does not work, it actually encourages illegal immigration. We have a border with Mexico that, despite billions of dollars already spent, is still not secure. And we have 11 million people living in this country illegally in de facto amnesty. This is the status quo, and it is a terrible mess,” he said.
Senate passage, should it occur, does not guarantee a vote in the Republican-led House of Representatives, or passage if a vote is held. Only approval by both houses of Congress will send the bill to the White House for President Barack Obama’s signature.