Senate Passes Comprehensive Immigration Reform; House Passage Uncertain
On June 27, 2013, the full Senate passed comprehensive immigration reform legislation, 68-32. All Democrats voted for the bill; 14 Republicans joined them. The bill includes a lengthy pathway to provisional legal status, permanent residence, and eventual U.S. citizenship for up to 11 million undocumented persons. It also includes enforcement and border control measures like finishing a 700-mile fence along the border with Mexico, deploying an additional 20,000 Border Patrol agents, and mandating E-Verify. Despite the potential costs, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that if the bill became law, it would reduce the United States’ deficit by almost $900 billion over the next 10 years.
A celebratory atmosphere ensued after the vote. Despite admonishments from Vice President Joseph Biden, who presided over the vote, chants of “Yes we can” and “Si se puede” were heard from the public gallery after the bill passed. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) called it a “historic day.”
Meanwhile, a bipartisan group in the House is working on its own version of comprehensive immigration reform, but observers expect that the House may pass immigration-related legislation piece by piece instead of voting for a comprehensive bill. House Speaker John Boehner said, “[T]he House is not going to take up and vote on whatever the Senate passes. We’re going to do our own bill.” He said representatives would go home for recess and “listen to our constituents. And when we get back, we’re going to…have a discussion about the way forward.”