By Laura Vazquez, Senior Immigration Legislative Analyst, NCLR
Yesterday marked the official beginning of the debate on the Senate immigration bill, S. 744. After hours of floor speeches, senators took two procedural votes to officially begin debate on the bill. With the Senate leaders of both parties agreeing that immigration reform is an important issue for the country, Sens. Reid (D–Nev.) and McConnell (R–Ky.) signaled that these procedural votes would receive sufficient support to get the process moving.
In a surprising move, Sen. Kirk (R–Ill.) voted no on both votes, which are simply meant to say that there is consensus to have a debate on fixing our broken immigration system. Senator Kirk joined a small minority of senators that includes staunch immigration reform opponents like Sens. Vitter (R–La), Sessions (R–Ala.), and Grassley (R–Iowa) in an effort to block the bill from moving forward.
The good news is that enough senators from both parties voted to move forward with debate on the legislation. The full Senate will now vote on amendments that could come up at any time over the next two and a half weeks. Sens. Reid and Leahy (D–Vt.) are working with Republican leadership to determine which amendments will come up each day, making this is a pretty fluid process. In the next few days the full Senate will likely vote on just a handful of amendments and then pick up the pace in the following two weeks.
Today, we are urging our network to call their senators and urge them to vote against Grassley’s amendment 1195, which would delay implementation of the legalization program for six months after the Secretary of Homeland Security certifies effective control of the border. This amendment would undermine the process of reform. Immigrants should be able to start the legalization process without having to wait for this arbitrary deadline. This vote will likely come up this afternoon.
Other amendments are starting to be filed and we are analyzing them now, so please check back for updates. We will also be sending out action alerts by email and text message on some of these amendments to ensure that senators are hearing from all of us. Text REFORM to 62571 to join our mobile action network. So with a lot more voting to come, stay tuned for how you can get involved. You can also follow us on Twitter (@NCLR) for the timeliest updates.