WASHINGTON, D.C.: In a vote hailed by United States (US) President Barack Obama, the Senate on Thursday (Friday in Manila) passed comprehensive immigration reform that would put 11 million undocumented people on a path to earning citizenship.
Chants of “Yes we did!” erupted from the public galleries after senators voted 68-32 to approve the landmark legislation, which pours unprecedented resources into border security, revamps legal immigration and requires a 13-year wait before those without papers can apply to become US citizens.
Fourteen Republicans joined a unanimous Democratic side in what Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid deemed a historic vote.
As Vice President Joe Biden presided over the chamber, Reid took the rare move of calling on members to cast votes from their Senate desks.
“We’ve taken giant steps forward towards solving our immigration problem today,” an elated Sen. Chuck Schumer, one of the four Democrats who crafted the bill with four Republicans in the so-called Gang of 8, told reporters.
The measure now faces a rocky road in the Republican-led House of Representatives, but Schumer and Republican Gang of 8 Sen. John McCain made a direct appeal to their colleagues on the other side of the US Capitol: work with us to achieve the most important immigration reform in a quarter century.
“To our friends in the House, we ask for your consideration, and we stand ready to sit down and negotiate with you,” McCain said.
“We may have different views on different aspects of this issue but we should all of us here have the same goal, and that is to take 11 million people out of the shadows, secure our borders, and make sure this is a nation of opportunity and freedom.”