US immigration reform clears first debate hurdle

The US immigration reform debate, currently taking place in the Senate, has passed its first hurdle as discussions continue on whether to pass the legislation drawn up by eight bipartisan Senators onto the House of Representatives.

Senators overwhelmingly decided to allow the legislation to process to an amend-and-debate period, by a majority of 84 to 15. All 15 of those who voted against moving the bill onto the next stage were Republicans.

US Bill of Rights

US Bill of Rights

However, in spite of the ease with which the bill passed the first hurdle, many experts still believe that the final vote on whether the Senate passes the legislation onto the next stage – the House of Representatives – will be touch and go. The major stumbling block is the legislation that will eventually allow for all of America’s undocumented immigrants – roughly 11 million – to become legal US citizens. Republicans are, on the whole, against this measure, and are also likely to want stricter border control, although they do support the amendments regarding skilled immigration.

President Barack Obama once again threw his support behind the bill yesterday, stating: “If you’re not serious about [immigration reform], if you think that a broken system is the best America can do, then I guess it might make sense to try to block it,” he said. “But if you’re actually serious and sincere about fixing a broken immigration system, this is the vehicle to do it.”

Some of the group of eight Senators who drew up the bill have previously spoken with confidence that the bill will be comfortably passed through the Senate.