The immigration reform bill of 2013 seeks to legalize over 11 million undocumented immigrants in the country, and provides a path to citizenship over a period of 13 years. The bill also calls for the securing of borders so that the influx of more undocumented persons is cut.
On Thursday, the bill was passed with a majority of 57-43. Five Republicans voted in favor of the bill along with 52 Democrats. Of the five, four belong to the Gang of Eight that was responsible for drafting the bill. The bill now allows legal status for the undocumented, though it will take 13 years before they can get US citizenship. They will be able to work and live here without having to worry about being deported by the Department of Homeland Security.
Certain Republican Senators wanted the emphasis to be on the border security first. They felt that it was better that the border issue sorted out first – money and time spent on securing the border and curbing the influx of people through the borders. Once the number of future undocumented immigrants was drastically cut down, then the government could focus on spending money to legalize the undocumented people in the country.
However, the bill has been passed and an amendment to the effect that border security be given preference over legalization was not accepted. There are further amendments, one of which wants the border security issue to be handled first, before any of the legalized immigrants be given their permanent resident cards.
The debate is on and most Republicans are going to make it difficult for the bill to be passed as it is now. We need to wait and watch to see what amendments are introduced and what are passed.
Meanwhile, there is widespread support for immigration reform from the Catholic bishops. Cardinal Timothy Dolan, archbishop of New York and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said that, “It’s important that Congress craft legislation that balances the legitimate needs of security with our heritage of welcoming immigrants and the gifts they bring to our country.” Read his complete post here.