The US Senate voted today by overwhelming majorities to bring the immigration reform bill to the floor. After 2 procedural votes that garnered 82-15 and 84-15 support, S 744 is now on the Senate Floor. Debate is expected for the next 2 to 3 weeks and much can transpire in that time, including the expected news from the House of Representatives that they´ve actually decided to produce their own bill or bills to respond to this action by the Senate. It´s possible they are waiting to see how it proceeds in the Senate before acting.
Of course this is just the beginning of debate on the immigration bill and some of the Senators who voted to bring S 744 to the floor today will probably not vote for it in the end or try to add some poison pills, amendments likely to kill the bill. A case in point is John Cornyn, republican senator from Texas, who has insisted he will present an amendment that he is calling “RESULTS”. According to him this amendment :
…..forbids undocumented immigrants from obtaining permanent residency until four criteria are met: 100 percent surveillance of the southern border, a minimum 90 percent apprehension rate for illegal border crossings, an operational biometric ID system at air and sea ports, and implementation of E-Verify nationally. He says the measure is critical to ensuring border security.
Democrats have rejected this amendment as unreasonable but Senator Marco Rubio, a member of the gang of 8 group that wrote the bill, representing Florida, has said that “something” must be done to strengthen the border security provisions of the bill. Rubio has become the only member of the gang of 8 (that includes 4 Republicans and 4 Democratic senators that is second guessing the bill they themselves wrote and wants it essentially changed. This change is essential because it will be one of the key “triggers” that will affect the status of those who are now undocumented immigrants.
Senator Charles Schumer from New York and Patrick Leahy from Vermont, both democrats and members of the Judiciary committee spoke passionately today in defense of the bill as did Senator Harry Reid, majority leader and a democrat from Nevada, who has been going to the floor in the past few days with stories of real people from his state that are affected by the broken immigration system.
But Senator Charles Grassley from Iowa was the first to speak to an amendment today on the floor: he wants nobody to get any kind of legal paper until the Secretary of Homeland Security certifies that for 6 months there´s operational complete control of the Southern Border. That means that any legalization will be delayed significantly even if the law passes.
He talked about “protect our sovereignty” and even invoked “weapons of mass destruction” that could come thru the border during his speech.
Here´s the list of senators who voted yes and no on procedural votes to bring S 744 to the floor.
Roll call-motion to proceed
There are more than 300 amendments expected and potentially 2 to 3 weeks of debate on the floor of the US Senate. The House of Representatives, the lower house of Congress, hasn´t yet produced a bill on this. Still waiting.