Immigration Reform Heads to Senate Floor: Where It Stands

The issue isn't off the table. It will likely come back up when the immigration bill heads to the floor of the Senate. But the amendment could face a difficult, if not impossible, road to passage on the floor. There, it could be held up by a 60-vote threshold for passage.

3. More Immigration Enforcement, But Nothing Huge

During the "mark up" of the bill, the Senate committee passed several Republican amendments strengthening immigration enforcement, but nothing too dramatic.

On the border security front, one amendment would call for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to submit a plan to reach 90 percent effectiveness in stopping unauthorized crossers along the entire border. Previously, the bill had only called for reaching that goal in "high-risk" areas.

Another amendment would require DHS to install a fingerprint-based system to track immigrants leaving the U.S. The system would need to be up-and-running in 30 airports across the country within six years.

That lets the "Gang of Eight" say that they've made the bill more conservative, without fundamentally changing it.

4. Defeating the Toughest Measures

While Democrats made some relatively small concessions on immigration enforcement, they shot down dozens of amendments that would have made a road to legalization harder for people without papers.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) stood out as particularly blunt in his opposition to illegal immigration. One of his amendments would have blocked citizenship for undocumented immigrants. Another would have kept them from receiving any means-tested benefit, even if they gained legal status. Both of those amendments failed.

Sens. Jeff Sessions (Ala.) and Charles Grassley (Iowa) led a campaign of attrition against the immigration bill, piling on 126 amendments between them, and drawing out discussions on items that had no chance of being adopted.

But in the end, they mainly just slowed the process. Their strongest measures weren't adopted, and most of their amendments were either defeated or withdrawn.

What Happens Next

The Senate bill is expected to reach the floor of the Senate in early June, and supporters hope to see it pass by the end of the month.

Meanwhile, an immigration bill in the House still hasn't materialized, although representatives working on the legislation say they've reached an agreement, and could have more details in the coming weeks.

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