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Senate Begins Debate on Immigration Reform Bill

Senate Begins Debate on Immigration BillAround 300 amendments were filed to the bipartisan immigration reform bill of the Gang of Eight and a formal debate over the amendments was opened by the Senate. The Senate Judiciary Committee debated and voted on 31 amendments. Only 21 amendments were adopted and the rest were rejected. Most of the amendments dealt with border security and the Senators stated that a bill that focuses on border security alone would pass the House. Amendments filed by the lawmakers ranged from protections for same sex couples to border security fixes. However, the Judiciary Committee debated for eight long hours and voted only on 31 amendments.

The Senators also discussed the similarities between the path to US citizenship that the Senate immigration reform bill would create and Reagan’s amnesty program. However, most of the Senators wanted bills that would stiffen border security and Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) stated that the population of undocumented immigrants would grow if tougher border security measures are not implemented. An amendment filed by Grassley that requires the country to secure the entire border and not only the high risk areas, has been adopted by the Judiciary Committee. 90 percent effectiveness would be achieved if the entire border is secured. Nevertheless, all the amendments that dealt with border security were not adopted by the Judiciary Committee. Amendments that would triple the size of the US Border Patrol and few other amendments were rejected by the committee.

Senator Patrick Leahy, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, stated that 21 amendments were adopted through a bipartisan vote, at the end of the session. Out of the 21 adopted amendments, 8 amendments were from the Republicans. Another formal debate will be opened on Tuesday and the process will be expedited. Though few amendments were adopted, none of the key provisions in the Senate immigration bill were altered. Nevertheless, proponents of immigration reform say that it is mandatory to resolve the status of all the country’s undocumented immigrants but the critics say that the immigration reform bill of the Gang of Eight amounts to amnesty and that it is rewarding the law breakers.

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