In a vote of 68 to 32, the Senate passed an immigration reform bill shortly after 4 pm on Wednesday that the “Gang of Eight” senators have been working on for months. The most comprehensive overhaul of our immigration system since 1986 would grant a 13-year path to citizenship for our 11 million undocumented immigrants in exchange for pouring billions of dollars into bolstering border security. But don't go on firing up your S-3 Vikings screaming “Mission Accomplished” in unchecked fits of excitement just yet.
The bill awaits fierce opposition from the Republican controlled House that has vowed to not take up the Senate version, and instead write its own reform bill. Fourteen Republican senators voted for the bill, yet even this number — given the 32 GOP senators who voted against it — does not bode well for the bill in the House.
So why won’t House Republicans vote for this landmark bill, given the support it could garner among the Hispanic community? Simply put, because they perceive a greater threat from the right than from the left in the next election cycle. If House Republicans admit to approving a bill carved up by the liberals in the Senate, they risk primary challenges.
In all likelihood, the House will do its best to write a bill that further strengthens border security measures, as has been proposed in amendments by Senator John Cornyn. Still, while this bill will may not fare too well in the House, the possibility of passing some form of immigration reform seems ever-likely.
With mounting pressure from the public — in the form of abysmal approval ratings — to accomplish something of note, Congress today has taken a meaningful step toward reform.