June 27, 2013
It was in 1986 that the last significant immigration bill passed.
Recognizing that today's vote was a historic one, Vice President Joe Biden presided over the vote. The Senators voted from their desks, an action taken only during significant votes.
Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) said, "This is not just my story, this is our story" after he retold the story of his family immigrating from Cuba.
Supporters chanted "Yes we can!" from the packed gallery as thousands of immigrants stood outside on the Capitol steps.
The bill is known for granting an estimated 11 million undocumented aliens a long and arduous 13-year pathway to citizenship. It also contains a provision that would give a pathway to citizenship to the CNMI legal longterm, foreign workers and other categories of legal nonresidents.
Today's vote would be a real victory except that most observers agree that the bill will face certain death in the Republican-led House. Too many of the House members put partisan political games before the will of the people and what is best for the country.
Speaker John Boehner stated:
"The House is not going to take up and vote on whatever the Senate passes. We're going to do our own bill through regular order, and it'll be legislation that reflects the will of our majority and the will of the American people," said House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio. "And for any legislation, including a (final bill), to pass the House, it's going to have to be a bill that has the support of the majority of our members."A bipartisan group of House members has been working on a House version of a comprehensive immigration bill. Over the last six months, they have said repeatedly that they would reveal their version, but have never met any of their self-imposed deadlines. Rep. Luis Guiterrez D-IL), a member of the bipartisan group said the group hopes to reveal a bill after the July 4th recess.
The House members who oppose the Senate bill want to break comprehensive reform into small pieces. If they do piecemeal the immigration issue I predict that they will pass only the pieces that they support such as stronger border security and e-verify and never get around to the piece that offers a pathway to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented aliens and others.
Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Illinois), the House Deputy Majority Whip said:
"The House has no capacity to move that (Senate) bill in its entirety. It just won't happen. It is a pipedream to think that that bill is going to go to the floor and be voted on," he said.President Obama's remarks:
Today, with a strong bipartisan vote, 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.
I thank Majority Leader Reid, Senator Leahy, Senator Schumer, and every member of the ‘Gang of Eight’ for their leadership, and I commend all Senators who worked across party lines to get this done.
The bipartisan bill that passed today was a compromise. By definition, nobody got everything they wanted. Not Democrats. Not Republicans. Not me. But the Senate bill is consistent with the key principles for commonsense reform that I – and many others – have repeatedly laid out.
If enacted, the Senate bill would establish the most aggressive border security plan in our history. It would offer a pathway to earned citizenship for the 11 million individuals who are in this country illegally – a pathway that includes passing a background check, learning English, paying taxes and a penalty, and then going to the back of the line behind everyone who’s playing by the rules and trying to come here legally. It would modernize the legal immigration system so that it once again reflects our values as a nation and addresses the urgent needs of our time. And it would provide a big boost to our recovery, by shrinking our deficits and growing our economy.
Today, the Senate did its job. It’s now up to the House to do the same.
As this process moves forward, I urge everyone who cares about this issue to keep a watchful eye. Now is the time when opponents will try their hardest to pull this bipartisan effort apart so they can stop commonsense reform from becoming a reality. We cannot let that happen. If you’re among the clear majority of Americans who support reform – from CEOs to labor leaders, law enforcement to clergy – reach out to your Member of Congress. Tell them to do the right thing. Tell them to pass commonsense reform so that our businesses and workers are all playing by the same rules and everyone who’s in this country is paying their fair share in taxes.
We have a unique opportunity to fix our broken system in a way that upholds our traditions as a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants. We just need Congress to finish the job.