A bipartisan group of eight Senators were able to get the Senate committee dealing with immigration to pass a reform bill. The bill will go to the full Senate for debate and a vote. The vote will probably take place in June.
The bill that passed is close to the plan talked about over the past few months. There are a few changes. Border security will be more important in the new bill. Certifying that the border is secure is the “trigger” for beginning the countdown to when undocumented people can start on the road to citizenship. Conservative Republicans want the Congress, not the Department of Homeland Security, to decide when the border is secure.
The path to citizenship, which will take 10 years for a green card or visa and another 3 years for citizenship, stayed the same in the new bill. Democrats said those timelines were the parts of the law that must stay in the bill. Some Republicans are against a path to citizenship.
An amendment to the bill that would have allowed American citizens to apply for a green card for same-sex partners was withdrawn. Opponents of the idea said they would vote against any bill that included gay rights. Gay rights advocates were unhappy.
Some gay rights advocates said the Supreme Court might decide the issue. The Court will rule in June on the question of whether marriage must be between a man and a women.
Democrats say a final bill should pass in the Senate with about 70 votes. The House has not said whether it will consider the Senate bill or create a new one.
Almost everyone agrees there should be a bill on immigration with a full vote in both the Senate and the House.
Immigration advocates were hoping that the path to citizenship would be shortened. They are likely going to have to decide whether to support a bill with the 10 plus 3 years pathway.