Immigration Bill Passes the Senate, Now What?

4 years ago

Thursday afternoon, the Senate voted 68-32 in favor of the bipartisan immigration reform bill. Fourteen Republican Senators joined the 52 Democrats and two Independents who supported this bill.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Image Credit: C-SPAN

While there were chants of “Yes We Can!” in the Senate galleries immediately following the vote, reactions on social media were mixed, with immigration reform supporters cautiously celebrating and opponents criticizing the bill:

Some immigrant advocates praised the bill for including provisions that protect women. Pramila Jayapal, Co-Chair of We Belong Together says:

The bill contains a road map to citizenship for millions of people who have long lived in the shadows. It includes important workers’ rights protections, an end to the family visa backlog, a provision that would allow deported parents to reunite with their families, protections for survivors of violence, an accelerated path to citizenship for DREAMers, and other positive changes to our immigration system that will improve the lives of millions of women and families.

“What’s more, it contains provisions that have never before been in an immigration bill --including provisions that allow spouses of those on employment visas to also work, and provisions that open up employment visa categories to recognize professions dominated by women.

However, Sandra Fluke writes on The Daily Beast that the bill still falls short in some areas that affect women more than men:

Specifically, it eliminates the opportunity for siblings and adult married daughters and sons over the age of 31 to come to the U.S. Instead, employment-based immigration is prioritized. Unfortunately, the industries emphasized in our employment-based system are primarily male-dominated sectors.

David Brooks from the New York Times describes the ambivalence some Americans feel how immigration reform might change the nation’s culture:

In other words, immigration reform won’t transform America. It will just speed up the arrival of a New America that is already guaranteed.

As we stand on the cusp of this New America, it’s understandable to feel some anxiety. If you take sociology and culture seriously, it’s sensible to wonder whether this is the sort of country we want to be. Can we absorb this many immigrants without changing something fundamental?

The immigration bill will now go to the Republican majority House of Representatives, where it faces an even tougher fight. From Colorlines:

The House begins its immigration reform process with an already conservative Senate bill as a starting place. The Senate legislation moved significantly to the right earlier this week as the bipartisan Gang of Eight Senators that drafted the legislation agreed to a Republican-proposed investment of billions of dollars in additional border security measures, including doubling the number of guards on the US-Mexico border to 40,000 and building 700 miles of fencing and walls. The bill would also buy additional drones and other military technology for the region.

The House will take up SB 744 on July 10, which Politico calls “the most important day for immigration reform”.

Watch the Senate vote here:

What are your feelings about the immigration reform bill? Tell us in the comments.

News and Politics Editor Grace Hwang Lynch blogs about raising an Asian mixed-race family at HapaMama.

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