On Tuesday, the Senate voted 84-15 to proceed to debating the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act. The Senate will continue to work on the bill throughout June.
The bipartisan group of eight senators, known as the Gang of Eight, introduced S. 744, which would create a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants already in the country, toughen border security, create a guest worker program and boost high-skilled immigration.
Some Republicans have complained that the legislation would provide amnesty over 10 to 13 years for the nearly 11 million residents living in the U.S. illegally before strengthening border enforcement.
“There is one thing this bill should not — and will not — do, and that is make citizenship contingent on border security measures that are not attainable,” Reid said.
The bill makes permanent legal residence contingent on the Department of Homeland Security having 100 percent situational awareness at every segment of the southern border and a 90 percent apprehension rate.
But some Republicans have suggested that the bill gives the DHS too much say over whether the border is secure, leaving Congress powerless to stop the amnesty program if security measures aren’t met. There are several amendments being introduced to strengthen border enforcement or require that the border be secure before anyone starts a path to citizenship.
Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), John McCain (R-Ariz.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) comprise the Gang of Eight.